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Optiques de la fiction. Pour une analyse des dispositifs visuels de quatre romans britanniques contemporains : Time's arrow de Martin Amis, Gut Symmetries de Jeanette Winterson, Cloud Atlas de David Mitchell, Clear de Nicola Barker

Abstract : At the turn of the 21st century, British fiction finds itself negotiating conflicting perceptions of vision. In the context of the “visual turn,” it reflects the increasingly influential role that visual technologies and media play in today’s cultural landscape. At the same time, it addresses anxious accounts of what is often presented as a crisis of the visual. For centuries vision was celebrated as the most intellectual of the senses; today, however, it is more often presented as a key component in practices of manipulation and control. Far from standing as a master of the visible world, the seeing subject appears as subjugated, living as he does under constant surveillance, and among the simulacra of the late capitalist spectacle. While taking such concerns into account, contemporary fiction creates optical dispositives that subvert the mechanisms of visual subjectification, and pave the way for new practices of subjectivation. This calls for a shift in the paradigms used to delineate the workings of vision. The novels we analyse here leave behind optical models defined by the binary separation between seeing and seen, subject and object. What they create instead are visual encounters in which one pair of eyes necessarily meets another. The epistemological understanding of visual perception as a vehicle of knowledge is replaced by a political and ethical interpretation of vision: the seeing subject emerges under the gaze of others, whom he acknowledges as his responsibility. In seeing therefore we run the risk that the encounter might go awry, that recognition might turn into misrecognition. This conception of visual experience emphasises the reciprocal structures of discourse and perception within which subjects and meanings emerge, but also reckons with the imperfections inherent in any interactive exchange between seeing and speaking subjects. It suggests that we engage with the phenomenology of reading through the pragmatics of discourse.
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  • HAL Id : tel-01814246, version 1

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Diane Leblond. Optiques de la fiction. Pour une analyse des dispositifs visuels de quatre romans britanniques contemporains : Time's arrow de Martin Amis, Gut Symmetries de Jeanette Winterson, Cloud Atlas de David Mitchell, Clear de Nicola Barker. Linguistique. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016USPCC251⟩. ⟨tel-01814246⟩

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