Colourworks: Chromatic Innovation in Modern French Poetry and Art Writing

Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book


How do modern writers write colour? How do today's readers respond to the invitation to 'think colour' as they read poetry and art writing, and explore paintings? To what extent can critical thought on colour in visual media illuminate the textual life of colour? These are some of the lines of enquiry pursued in this bold new study of modern poetry and art writing in French, where colour, Susan Harrow argues, is integral to the exploration of ethics, ekphrasis, objects, bodies, landscape, and interiority.

The question of colour, in a variety of disciplines and media, has provoked debate from Aristotle to Goethe, and from Baudelaire to Derek Jarman. If the past twenty years have witnessed a 'colour turn' in contemporary cultural studies and screen research, colour values in literary and textual media are often elided or, simply, overlooked. Colourworks tackles this lacuna in the study of modern poetry and art writing in French, revealing the integral role of colour in the work of three iconic French writers in the modern tradition: Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Valéry, and Yves Bonnefoy. Colourworks spans the broad modern period from the 1860s to the early 21st century in taking an exploratory approach to the visuality of the verbal medium through an adventurous reading of text and image. Harrow uncovers how colour moves and morphs in texts as it challenges the traditionalist containments of chromatic symbolism. Beyond its primary area of investigation in modern poetry and art writing in French, this richly colour-illustrated study has significant interdisciplinary implications – conceptual, methodological, and practical – for the study of visuality in humanities research, from literature studies to material and visual culture studies
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
Number of pages240
EditionFirst (Hardback)
ISBN (Electronic)9781350182219, 9781350182226
ISBN (Print)9781350182202
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2021

Publication series

NameVisual Cultures


  • modernism
  • visual culture
  • modern and contemporary poetry
  • art-writing
  • colour
  • ekphrasis
  • Stéphane Mallarmé
  • Paul Valéry
  • Yves Bonnefoy


Dive into the research topics of 'Colourworks: Chromatic Innovation in Modern French Poetry and Art Writing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this