Sarah M. T. Goeth

Panel 1E: Icons and iconicity
Session 1 – July 1, 11:00 – 13:00

The Iconic Turn as a Pioneer of Modern Transmedialism

Images and language have always been related. The pictures were said to need language in order to fully develop their potential for meaning; and the language had to be clear to convince. The silent image and the blind language therefore had their complement in the other medium. The long historical discussion about the interrelationship between the two arts always brought new insights into their mutual influence as well as their own means of representation and aesthetic effects.

The period of the late 19th century proved to be a particularly intense discussion about the relationship between the two arts, when new avant-garde movements in the visual arts (specially in France) resulted in new artistic experiments and theoretical considerations. However, this strengthening of the visual arts, now also known in research as an »iconic turning point«, does not lead to literature being superseded by images, but rather proves to be a challenge for media and semiotic reflection in literature. Experienced competition through the medium of image leads to an immense productivity of new literary strategies.

The talk tries to investigate the role of images in German literature around 1900, paying particular attention to the productivity of the image paradigms in the literary works of authors such as Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Rainer Maria Rilke, Franz Kafka and Robert Musil. Questions about the influence of artists and works of art in the visual arts on the authors as well as about the visuality of texts should be discussed in the talk to point out that the iconic turn plays one of the key roles for the development of the modern mediascape where everything, even text by digitalization, is based on a visual ground.


Sarah Maria Teresa Goeth’s research interests include German Literature in the 18th and 19th Century, the relation or the impact of science and/on literature, the use and circulation of metaphors in different discourses, and picture theory. Her doctoral dissertation analyses the rhetoric figure “analogy” in the context of science, philosophy and literature in the 18th and 19th century. Sarah Goeth studied in Munich and Passau and holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich. After her master’s degree, she received a scholarship form the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and taught at the University of Binghamton, New York, for one year. Then she was granted a scholarship by the NFS eikones (Basel, Switzerland). This graduate programme allowed her to collaborate with researches of different disciplines to analyse and discuss the question of the “picture as an artefact”.