Utopia and iconicity: reading Saint-Simonian texts

Kerr, G. (2012) Utopia and iconicity: reading Saint-Simonian texts. Word and Image, 28(3), pp. 317-330. (doi: 10.1080/02666286.2012.734494)

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In his study of Thomas More’s Utopia, Louis Marin identifies a productive discontinuity peculiar to that work. The discontinuity arises from the tension between, on the one hand, the textual objective of delimiting the complex social reality of the egalitarian island state within a given conceptual language and, on the other, the capacity of the reader of More’s work to visualize mentally the referential content of that language in the form of an iconic representation, as a map of the island. This article develops the tension identified by Marin between discourse and iconicity by reference to some examples of texts by members of the Saint-Simonian movement, one of the chief currents of ‘utopian’ socialism in nineteenth-century France. While Marin’s analysis is based on a cartographic conception of the utopian text’s iconic elements, however, this article argues that in Saint-Simonian discourse, the iconic function is not supplied by a real or imagined map, but transfers instead to the opaque (typo)graphic support of that discourse. Shapes and patterns are produced by the graphic disposition of signifiers across the page that are surplus to their tacit referential function, but which point to something that Saint-Simonian doctrine cannot yet affirm via the conceptual antithesis of ‘matter’ and ‘spirit’ which underpins it.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:<p>Article shortlisted for the Malcolm Bowie Prize 2012</p> <p>This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article submitted for consideration in the Word and Image © Taylor and Francis; Word and Image is available online at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02666286.2012.734494</p>
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kerr, Dr Greg
Authors: Kerr, G.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > French
Journal Name:Word and Image
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1943-2178
Published Online:29 November 2012
Copyright Holders:Copyright © Taylor and Francis
First Published:First published in Word and Image 28(3):317-330
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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