Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Ut Pictura Poesis (As is painting, so is poetry)

ENGL 415.640
instructor(s):

Images and the figures of speech called imagery bring language to life and abstract ideas to light in the mind. They are what create the physical world of fiction and convey the subjective realities of poems and the arguments of essays. In this workshop we will explore the intersection between writing and the visual arts suggested by Simonides de Keos in the 5th century B.C.E. (Poetry is a speaking picture, painting a silent poetryˇ) and echoed above in Horace's famous dictum. We will look at some of the theory behind the "sister arts" and the two forms of description which unite them: literal and figurative. Mostly we will examine and play with the language of images and the transfer of categories of meaning which metaphor and it's attendant likenesses govern, along with the image's great project: animation--the ultimate sense of the real. We will read an eclectic array of writings from a variety of genres, including philosophy, literary theory, and paint catalogues.  Students will write weekly and participate in weekly peer review. Revision is expected. This is a workshop that will teach writers of all genres to write persuasively and evocatively.  The course Ut Pictora Poesis is the first in a series that explores intersections (both in theory and application) in the arts.  Future courses explore intersections between music and writing, acting theory and writing, magic and writing, and truth telling across genres.