Cover Stories: Blind Spots in Theory


  • 12pm

  • Adam House, Adam House Lecture Theatre
    3 Chambers Street
    Edinburgh
    EH1 1HT

The presentation will attempt to outline a larger project on the discursive and representational surfaces of learning and the book as an intellectual instrument for radical/critical pedagogies in architectural humanities. It will proceed through a series of stories that examine the book cover as a threshold image in academic writing and the role of the cover image and the dust jacket in the reading experience of theoretical texts on architecture and the politics of representation. Touching upon the functions of the image within the paratextual mediations between the writer, the publisher and the reader, they will consider spatio-temporal aspects and critical potentials of architectural writing.

The ascendance of the generic glossy hardcover for academic texts, the unquestioned alliance of graphic design with marketing industry, and the continued standard practice at university libraries of removing and discarding the dust-jackets often without retaining bibliographic data on scholarly work, all point to the problematic agency of what Gerald Genette called ‘peripheral paratext’.

Speaker: Ella Chmielewska

Ella Chmielewska is Senior Lecturer in Cultural & Visual Studies at ESALA. Her work concerns the city and visuality: relationships between image and text in public space; urban writing and place-marking (graffiti, inscriptions, and signage); place, memory and semiotic landscapes (practices of commemoration, representation and erasure); objects and place in/of visual culture. Her most recent research focuses on image/text and architectural imagery in writing: “Writing with the photograph; espacement, description, and an architectural text in action” in Anna Dalhren et al (eds) Representational Machines: Photography and the Production of Space (Aarhus University Press, 2013); Afterword. “Postscript as Pretext” in Mark Dorrian, Writing on the Image: Architecture, the City and the Politics of Representation. (IB Tauris, 2015).  Ella is currently working on a book on representation, place memory and visuality, Warsaw Surfaces and is sketching the Cover Stories project.

Part of the 2017/2018 ESALA Research Seminar Series. Free and open to all.