AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Seeing-as and reading-in : an inquiry into imagination and meaning in aesthetics

by Alexandria Stacy Ham

Institution: University of Hawaii – Manoa
Year: 2016
Keywords: aesthetics; imagination
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2064738
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/101912


Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2010. Words and pictures both bear meanings, but they cannot be substituted for one another. When we discuss the meanings of visual and literary works of art we often stumble upon this problem. Underlying our compulsion to ―translate‖ the meaning of visual art into words or ―capture‖ the meaning of literary works with something other than words, there is, however, an even greater issue. It is this foundational issue that this dissertation strives to unearth: the degree to which seeing and reading share in a common ground that provides the foundation for the conception of meaning. The difference between seeing and reading cannot be accurately characterized as the difference between passive reception of meaning, in the case of seeing, and active construction of meaning, in the case of reading. On the contrary, both seeing and reading involve active collaboration with a world that causes us to grasp both perceptual and linguistic meaning. Meaning, therefore, is in the world waiting to be discovered in sensory and linguistic forms. Artists discover meaning when they set out to create a work of art and audiences discover meaning when they subsequently see or read artworks. The meaning of a work of art, therefore, lies within the artwork itself, but reflects the intentions and imagination of the artist who created it and evokes the co-creative participation of the audience who re-discovers it.