<i>Time and Motion Studies: Joycean Cinematicity in</i> A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Keith B. Williams

in Cinematicity in Media History

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2013 | ISBN: 9780748676118
Published online May 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780748695096 | DOI:
Time and Motion Studies: Joycean Cinematicity in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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This chapter, written by Keith B. Williams, shows that James Joyce’s ‘eye and imagination were already trained by the rich and diverse optical culture in which he grew up’, even before cinema arrived. The cinematicity of Joyce’s writings is not therefore just an after-effect of the cinématographe; rather, Joyce’s ‘visual literacy’ and ‘literary visuality’ help explain ‘his creative receptiveness to cinema’ when it did arrive. As Williams’s close readings reveal, Joyce’s novel presents us with a protagonist whose perceiving and remembering consciousness is as variously evocative of the magic lantern as it is of chronophotography or cinema itself. It is this that makes this novel the ‘superlatively intermedial Modernist text’. Insofar as Joyce’s fiction appears to extend the ancient principle of ekphrasis into this age of moving images, it should be seen as synergetic with key aspects of visual culture and technology which gave birth to cinematicity on screen.

Keywords: James Joyce; Comparative media; Modernism; Irish literature; Cinematic perception; Film and Literature

Chapter.  8483 words. 

Subjects: Film

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