FRAL - Programme franco-allemand en SHS

Flaubert and the power of images – FLIM (FLaubert IMages)

Flaubert and the power of images

The aim of this project is to define both the visual paradigm that rules Flaubert’s work and the new dialectical status that Flaubert establishes between text and image in terms of reciprocal tension and autonomy.

Exploring the power of images and its stakes in Flaubert’s writings

he project “Gustave Flaubert and the power of images” is in alignment with a previous research project (“Fractal”: “Flaubert: Religions, Antiquity, Creation”) that addressed the implication of religions, mythography and Antiquity in the writing processes. The aim is to define both the visual paradigm that rules Flaubert’s work and the new dialectical status that Flaubert establishes between text and image in terms of reciprocal tension and autonomy. Flaubert’s poetics will be thoroughly reconsidered from this angle: how does iconographic knowledge inform the text and its genesis? How does writing capture the image’s specificity to establish a new understanding of the visible and create a new status of the written image? What new theory of the image will arise from this twofold epistemological initiative? Three series of questions will allow us to organize our investigation in dialogic terms: the dialectics of transcendence (believing and knowing) opposing the ontology of the image and a kind of desecration of the imagery and the cliché; the dialectics of vision (seeing and imagining), where the visual as a sign of reality is opposed to the dream or hallucination; the dialectics of representation (writing with and against the image), where writing vies with painting, photography and illustration, redefining the image as document, structure and figure. <br /> <br />

The idea was to put Flaubert’s work in the perspective of art history and visual techniques, taking into account the set of relations the writer built between his work and iconographic references, but also his theoretic propositions about images.
The creation of a digital image library involved various aspects: research, collection of images (digital, newly created or copied), classification, structuring and commentaries, of a set, as exhaustive as possible, of visual documents related to Flaubert’s works and life. The sheer mass and variety of registered documents implicated an important effort for the modeling of a filing system as well as for the structuring of data. This project required the collaboration of a computer programmer and of several researchers specialists of Flaubert, as well as the global coordination of the project. A collaborative digital platform was put in place.
This work was associated with an epistemological reflection on the iconographic material and the integration of image to writing. This theoretical dimension of the project (which was part of the entirety of the other works) constituted the fundamental base of the results’ synthesis, defining the terminological and definitional base of the Flaubertian aesthetics of the image. This reflection was developed during seminars, study days and conferences.

- Broadening of the research of images in Flaubert (mental image, visual devices, stylistic image).
- Exploration of the working of images in the writings by the study of drafts and manuscripts
- Construction of a theoretical method of the relationship between writing and image.
- Creation of a Flaubert digital image library. Choosing among the Flaubertian corpus, exploration of various sectors of the image and the establishment of a methodology transposable to other 19th Century corpuses.
- Creation of a new hermeneutic tool for entering into Flaubert’s work. Update of the impact of images in his work and the conception of style as “an absolute way of seeing things”.

Creation of a Flaubert digital image library. Choosing among the Flaubertian corpus, exploration of various sectors of the image and the establishment of a methodology transposable to other 19th Century corpuses.
- Creation of a new hermeneutic tool for entering into Flaubert’s work. Update of the impact of images in his work and the conception of style as “an absolute way of seeing things”.

- Bilateral publications:
• Pierre-Marc de Biasi, Anne Herschberg Pierrot, Barbara Vinken (éds.), Voir, croire, savoir : les épistémologies de la création chez Gustave Flaubert, Berlin, de Gruyter, 2014.
• Two years of Flaubert seminars at ITEM on “Flaubert and the power of images” (2012-2014) resulted in the publication of two issues of the online journal Flaubert. Revue critique et génétique (n° 11 and n° 12, 2014, Flaubert et le pouvoir des images I et II)
• Two international symposiums (2014 and 2015) and a workshop over several days (2016) have resulted in an issue of the journal Flaubert. Revue critique et génétique (n° 15, 2016 : Flaubert, le mot, l’image, le rêve) and a volume Le Musée imaginaire de Flaubert (forthcoming at CNRS Editions, in 2017)

- Creation of a Flaubert digital image base of 1029 images files and 1506 records, as on January 27, 2017, established with a sampling of Flaubert’s writings, accessible online by the end of February 2017.

The project “Gustave Flaubert and the power of images” is the development of a first research process (“Fractal”: “Flaubert: Religions, Antiquity, Creation”) that addressed the implication of religions, mythography and Antiquity in the writing processes. The aim is to define both the visual paradigm that rules Flaubert’s work and the new dialectical status that Flaubert establishes between text and image in terms of reciprocal tension and autonomy. Flaubert’s poetics will be thoroughly reconsidered from this angle: how does iconographic knowledge inform the text and its genesis, how does writing capture the image’s specificity to establish a new understanding of the visible and create a new status of the written image? What new theory of the image will arise from this twofold epistemological initiative? Three series of questions will allow us to organize our investigation in dialogic terms: the dialectics of transcendence (believing and knowing) opposing the ontology of the image and a kind of desecration of the imagery and the cliché; the dialectics of vision (seeing and imagining), where the visual as a sign of reality is opposed to the dream or hallucination; the dialectics of representation (writing with and against the image), where writing vies with painting, photography and illustration, redefining the image as document, structure and figure. An intranet working platform will optimize synergies between the German and French researchers for the exchange and sharing of their studies and later, for the circulation of the data and results. ITEM will create a new digital image library: a data base, structured and annotated, making available the principal visual resources related to Gustave Flaubert’s works and life. Both teams will synthesize their results in a dictionary titled “Gustave Flaubert. An Image Index” grouping the lexical contributions of all the researchers involved in this project: a thematic dictionary that will renew the terminology and our knowledge of this research field so as to make it intelligible in all its complexity.

Project coordinator

Madame Anne HERSCHBERG PIERROT (Institut des Textes et Manuscrits Modernes) – anne.herschberg@ens.fr

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

ITEM Institut des Textes et Manuscrits Modernes

Help of the ANR 177,828 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2013 - 36 Months

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