September 14, 2005

Elective Affinities at Penn

by Nick Montfort · , 3:31 pm

IAWIS/AIERTI 7th International Conference on Word & Image Studies:
Elective Affinities
Philadelphia, 23-27 September, 2005

Those within range of Philly might particularly want to look into attending Words on Screen: Hierarchies of Text and Picture in Cyberculture (I’ll be presenting “How Stella Got Her Text Back” in that session) and and VVV-on-line: Verbal-Visual-Vocal Poetries in Hyperspace I, II, and III, a series of sessions put together by Charles Bernstein. The full announcement is below…

The University of Pennsylvania hosts the 7th International Conference on Word & Image Studies. The conference title is borrowed from Goethe’s 1809 novel Elective Affinities. In the novel, the chemical term “elective affinities” extends to human relationships, both intimate and political. Like the alkalis and acids of which Goethe’s characters speak, words and images, though apparently opposed, may have a remarkable affinity for one another. At the same time, as one of the characters in the book objects, such affinities are problematic, and “are only really interesting when they bring about separations.

How words and images represent and whether they enjoy a harmonious kinship, engage in border skirmishes, or seek to annihilate one another, are not merely formal matters. The history of iconoclasm tells us about the ideological stakes of the debate. Contemporary discussions of memorialization seem to demand multi-media expression, and urban inscriptions such as graffiti and mural arts express political positions. New technologies for meshing words and images – such as medical imaging, virtual archives, the Internet – will also be discussed. Themes of the conference are: the arts of the book; early correspondences; political inscriptions; sacred words, sacred images; scientific imaging; spaces, places; photographic texts.

Professors Peter Stallybrass (Penn) and Yve-Alain Bois (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton), and author Art Spiegelman will offer keynote lectures.

For more information, details about registration, and a list of speakers, panels, topics, times and locations, please visit:

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