‘Poetry Beyond Text’ at the Universities of Dundee and Kent, UK

Researchers at the Universities of Dundee and Kent have just been awarded a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, to study poetry ‘beyond text’.

Digital media and contemporary print production techniques are allowing poets and artists to combine words and images in new and exciting ways, including web-based and interactive ‘digital poetry’ and artists’ books. However, they are drawing on a long and rich tradition, including 20th-century ‘concrete poetry’, visual text works of Cubist, Futurist and Dadaist artists, William Blake’s poem engravings of the Romantic era, Gutenberg’s movable type with woodcut images, illuminated medieval manuscripts, and Renaissance pattern poetry. Psychologists have established that we ‘read’ and process text and images in different ways. So what are the specific perceptual and cognitive processes involved in responding to such hybrid works operating at the threshold between word and image, the textual and the visual? And how might an exploration of our responses help scholars to interpret these works, and inspire or inform poets and artists to create new works?

The project, entitled Poetry Beyond Text: Vision, Text and Cognition involves researchers in English, Comparative Literature, Psychology and Fine Art in a 2-year partnership between the two universities. The team will be led by Dr Andrew Michael Roberts of the Dundee School of Humanities English Programme.

Funded by the AHRC’s multi-million pound Beyond Text Scheme, the project will combine the methods of literary criticism, creative practice and human experimental psychology to study a wide range of works: digital poetry, books of poetry and photography, artists’ books and concrete and pattern poetry. Involving poets, artists, scholars, scientists, students and members of the public, it will explore some of the rich interactions of text and image in contemporary culture, and produce both creative and analytical results, to be made available through exhibitions, new works of art, a website and an on-line gallery.

Dr Andrew Michael Roberts, Dr Martin Fischer, Dr Mary Modeen (University of Dundee);
Dr Anna Katharina Schaffner, Dr Ulrich Weger (University of Kent)

Dr Andrew Roberts – email A.M.Roberts [at] dundee.ac.uk
Dr Anna Katharina Schaffner – email A.K.Schaffner [at] kent.ac.uk