Prose Poetry and the Visual Arts

In an interdisciplinary fashion, Dr Bertrand Bourgeois’ current research explores the interaction between prose poetry and the visual arts in 19th and 20th century French literature and culture.

hand holding a book
Dr Bourgeois’ book ‘Petits poèmes à voir: de la bambochade textuelle aux pochades en prose (1842-1948)’ (Paris: Hermann, 2020)

The latest outcome of this project is the publication of Dr Bourgeois’ book Petits poèmes à voir: de la bambochade textuelle aux pochades en prose (1842-1948) (Paris: Hermann, 2020, 355pp.).

This monograph demonstrates how prose poetry contributes to the reversal of Ut Pictura Poesis in 19th Century French Literature. Rather than using ekphrasis to imitate painting, the prose poem competes with minor visual arts through an appropriation of their generic denominations (sketches, still life, etc.).

From the rediscovery of Rembrandt in the 19th Century to Kupka’s experimentations, light and colour are two major obsessions of visual artists which also fascinate poets of the time. Their rhetoric becomes plastic in order to transform chiaroscuro and colours into poetic figures.

From Aloysius Bertrand to Francis Ponge, this monograph revisits the history of the ‘poème en prose’ as a genre defying established literary classifications. It does so by scrutinising how prose poets turn visual motifs (the window, the mirror, the eye) into the textual signs of poems to be seen rather than read.

Project details


Dr Bertrand Bourgeois

More information

Les éditions Hermann website