Nancy Shawcross

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20052006 Forum on Word and Image

Nancy Shawcross

Curator of Manuscripts in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Penn

Theses on Writing Sebald's Images after Barthes

Dr. Shawcross is exploring the nexus of word and image in the work of the late German author, W. G. Sebald. Her text-and-image presentation captions photographs taken from three of Sebald s novels: The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, and Austerlitz, with quotations from two books: The Empire of Signs and Camera Lucida, by Roland Barthes."Thesis" refers to the unstressed note in music or unaccented mark in a foot of verse, thereby suggesting the proper tone for the enterprise. The recontextualization exposes the intertextuality at play between the two authors and argues for the consideration of another narrative thread within Sebald's novels beyond the well-noted paths offered, for example, by Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin. The four imaged texts that Sebald wrote in the last ten years of his life mirror Barthes's text-and-image productions as well as his conscientious blurring of genres in the books that were published in the last decade of his life.