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EN3119 Painting/Writing

Summer Reading List (2015-16)

Course Leader: Dr. Redell Olsen 

Writing/ Painting

In preparation for this course, visit at least one exhibition of paintings and write in response to the visual art that you see in anyway that you find interesting.

You might want to consider some of the following as starting points:

  • What strikes you as interesting about the work? (subject matter, materials used, colour, form, role of artist, wider context...?)
  • How is it displayed? (room, corridor, house, gallery...)
  • How does this have a bearing on your experience of the work?
  • What is the audience doing? How long does it take to view this work? How does this affect your experience? Do your responses to the painting/ paintings change if you return more than once? At different times of the day?
  • Who chose/ owns this work?
  • Does the exhibition relate to any writing that you have read?
  • If the exhibition/ paintings include text what kind of language is it? How is it being used? Is it the same kind of language that you might find in a poem, a novel?
  • Any contextual issues to consider?  (economic, social, historical...)
  • How does the exhibition make you feel? think?
  • In terms of the techniques used here what would be an equivalent writing style?
  • Anything else of interest to consider?
  • If you were to write something to go on the wall next to one of the paintings what would it be?

Good places to find about exhibitions include Time Out, The Guardian Guide, your local paper, museum.

Keep a scrapbook journal/ postcards of a paintings of your visits to exhibitions.

Do bring an example of your writing about painting and an image if possible to our first session. Please upload them to Moodle in advance if you can and be prepared to discuss them with the group.

You will need to bring a copy of the following book to each seminar:

  • Masterpieces from the National Gallery. Erika Langmuir, (Yale University Press, 2007)

You will find it helpful for this course to read some of the following:

  • Ashbery, John, Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror, London and New York: Penguin, 1972.
  • Barthes, Roland, Image, Music, Text, London: Fontana, 1977 (reprint 1993).
  • Baxandall, Michael, Patterns of Intention: On the Historical Explanation of Pictures, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.
  • Berger, John, The Shape of a Pocket, London: Bloomsbury, 2001.
  • Guest, Barbara, Collected Poems, Wesleyan University Press, 2008.
  • Ekins, James, What Painting Is? New York; London: Routledge, 2000.
  • Harrison, Charles, Conceptual Art and Painting: Further Essays on Art & Language, MIT Press, 2001.
  • Heffeman, James Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis from Homer to Ashbery, Chicago: University of Chicago, 1993).
  • Mitchell, W. J. T. Ed. The Language of Images, Chicago: University of Chicago, 1980.
  • Steiner, Wendy, Pictures of Romance: Form against Context in Painting and Literature, Chicago: University of Chicago, 1988.



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