Miriam Auer: Poetry in Motion and Emotion

The project is dedicated to the analysis of the forms, functions and effects of intermedial references to poems and poets in visual(izing) culture with a special focus on their integration in movies and videogames. The theoretical framework is constituted by literary, cultural, and media studies, as it paves the way for a research interest in audience reception, participation in the process of meaning-making, interactivity, hermeneutic interpretability and relevant psychosocial recontextualizations.

Discernible interferences of cognitive cultural studies (cf. L. Zunshine) with affect studies (cf. M. Gregg & G. Seigworth) are echoed in what I want to refer to as the ‘Four Es of Edutainment’ that I have extracted (Ethics, Empathy, Eschatology and Epistemology) and which, in addition, significantly shaped the criteria according to which the written corpus of poetic pretexts under academic investigation was compiled.

The set of questions raised involves the following: Which forms do these poems take on when embedded in movies and games? Are there (m)any modifications being made to the original texts? Are the references to these poems explicit or implicit (from subtly or not at all transformed recitals to limited aesthetic, visual or structural cues and implied hints)? What are the occasions of delivery if (parts of) stanzas are being recited by protagonists? What are the functions of these references? Which purpose do these particular adaptations of poems (which are transposed into multimedial, ludic contexts) serve, which effects are generated?

Remedialised products like movies and videogames which, in manifold manner, allude to poems as well as to their respective authors, who may have become iconic over centuries, are creative adaptations converging linguistic, auditory and visual codes. They can be read as testimonies of attempts to synthesize popular visual culture and established philological achievements realised as canonised lyric text corpora. These multimedial realisations translate poetry into motion, they set poetry in motion. Thematically considering the ‘Four Es of Edutainment’, emotional reactions are very likely – and wanted – to accompany their reception and cognitive progression. Inner images are being evoked by synaesthetic wording and the transfer into a visual medium moves them, makes them move on, transforms them and thus eventually also moves the recipients. It touches those who play the game or watch the film. Poetry is set in motion and emotion, as this associative word-chain demonstrates: motion picture – moving image – movie – literally and metaphorically moving picture/image.

Moreover, certain metamorphoses of poems may foster what I refer to as ‘intermedia literacy’. The term denotes the sensitivity to discern, contextualise and interpret references to texts in various medial and modal realisations. They do not linger in between media, but consolidate the best of worlds that only appear to be far apart. When, in the context of a visualizing culture, poetry is translated into motion, transmedially adapting the original text, we arrive at ‘poetry in (e)motion’, an international concept, an interpersonal phenomenon, maybe even one universal language …

(University of Klagenfurt)