• shareshare
  • link
  • cite
  • add
Other research product . 2021

Depicting Absence: Thematic and Stylistic Paradoxes of Representation in Visual and Literary Imagery

Irimia, Alexandra;
Open Access
Published: 01 Jan 2021
Publisher: Scholarship@Western
Country: Canada

The article draws up an inventory of, and compares strategies for, the theoretical and critical treatment of the absence–presence interplay at stake in the literary and visual representations of absence. This brings to our attention a multiplicity of heterogeneous and, to a greater or lesser degree, marginal signify-ing phenomena that have in common patterns of disrupting and deviating from the standard conventions of creating and conveying meaning through figures of absence. Lacking a name for these disparate yet similar instances where meaning is created from empty signifiers, we have chosen to call them figural voids. This attempt to produce a critical inventory focuses on modern and contemporary approaches to the analysis of figures and figurations of absence in literature, visual arts, and cinema, relying on the works of Anne Cauquelin, Jean-Pierre Mourey, Philippe Le Roux, Maurice Frechuret, Bruno Duborgel, and Marc Vernet. Their theoretical positions stand in a variety of literary and artistic contexts that are seemingly disconnected yet can be brought together on the basis of their common affinity to figural voids. This calls for a comparative standpoint and can be illustrated with examples ranging across historical periods and disciplines: from Stoic writings to Alberto Moravia’s Boredom, from Mallarmé’s blank page to the controversial curatorial practices espoused by Yves Klein.


conceptual art, literature, cinema, figures of absence, empty signifier, incorporeal, semiotics, French theory, Aesthetics, Arts and Humanities, Comparative Literature, European Languages and Societies, Other Film and Media Studies, Philosophy of Language, Rhetoric and Composition, Visual Studies

Related Organizations
Related to Research communities
Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage