Lundi 23 mai 2022 11h-12h30
Salle T2 2.44 Maison de la Recherche
Martina Saric (PhD researcher, University of Glasgow):
Sculptural Bodies Exposed: Pygmalionism and Embodiments of the Well-Beloved
The myth of the moving sculpture has been explored in numerous fantastical stories, most notably starting with Pygmalion and Galatea myth in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The Victorian age renewed the interest in Greek and Roman myth of the moving statue. In my talk, I will explore the Victorian reimagining of this mythology through art, poetry, and fiction. I draw on the unfairly overlooked novel The Well-Beloved (1897) by Thomas Hardy, in which three generations of women named Avice become a central obsession for Pierston, the sculptor, as he tries to embody his ideal in marble form.
I will explore how the concept of desire is treated when confronted with rigid statues – how desire itself is calcified within the immovable body. I show how this immovability is also contaminating everyone who comes in contact with sculptures. The line between movement and rigidity is blurred, as the animation of what should remain immovable is also a violation of laws that govern life and death. In these interpretations, this rigidity ultimately infects the living body. Exposing the sculpted image of Galatea through the art of Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, and ultimately Thomas Hardy I will also contrast the sculpted image of the 19th century to the photographic image growing in popularity – both frozen sliced time, containing the return of the past and of the dead.
Hardy’s world is one underlined by a mythological (un)consciousness, and this world of sculptures in The Well-Beloved is a world of repetition (faces, traits, names, events) – dare we say renewal as well? As critics have often drawn on the tragic element in Hardy, I want to search, through these sculpted forms, for his idealism (and complex qualities of wit) instead. Does this mythological current running through his work leave space for a renewing quality? Is there a way to renew desire and life-force within marble, stone, and ultimately within frozen words on a page?
LERMA Intern, Martina Saric is a PhD researcher and tutor (GTA) in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. Her work focuses on Victorian art, literature, and aesthetics, with a particular focus on the work of Thomas Hardy. Her doctoral project explores sensual and sensorial modes of knowledge in Hardy’s writing, as well as more general modes of embodiment.
She is currently a visiting intern at LERMA, at the Aix-Marseille University, assisting Dr Anne Reynes-Delobel on organising the CIVIS short mobility course ‘Transitive Modernities’ in Stockholm, Sweden. She is also continuing remotely her internships for the SGSAH (Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities) working with Monica Callaghan (Head of Operations and Strategies) on developing their international strategies and partnership outreach.
During her visit to LERMA Martina will be affiliated with Programme D3: ‘Subjectivity and the Construction of the Visible,’ delivering a seminar on the theme of sculptural bodies and visibility. The seminar will be of interest to PGR students and PhD researchers working across disciplines in arts and humanities, especially those focusing on Victorian literature, aesthetics, themes of visibility, sculpture, myth, and visual arts.
Richard Phelan – Maître de conférences en études américaines – DEPARTEMENT ETUDE DU MONDE ANGLOPHONE