Word and Image: A Cultural and Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Department of French and Centre for Comparative Literature

Aims and Scope

One of the most exciting and innovative fields of current academic inquiry is the study of the interaction of words and images. The collaboration between verbal and written languages and visual and symbolic systems of communication are so prevalent that they have attracted academic attention at the University of Toronto from a diverse range of disciplines, including literature, drama, cinema studies, art history, book history and print culture, philosophy, anthropology, media studies and architecture. This interdisciplinary, interdepartmental and international research group concerns itself with the study of the relations between words and images in various forms and interdisciplinary perspectives.

The objectives of this research group are twofold. First, from a pedagogical perspective our aim is to identify and discuss questions, problems and methods for the development of a curriculum which focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to the study of verbal and visual representations in the humanities. From a theoretical perspective, this research endeavour allows faculty members and students to explore issues such as: what are images?; how do they differ from textual representations?; what are the interactions of visual and verbal representations in a variety of media, mainly literature and the visual arts?; what is the relationship between "word and image" and cultural politics, issues of power, values and human interests?


To foster the interdisciplinarity of word and image studies this group seeks to advance research and teaching in this field at the University of Toronto and other institutions of higher education within Canada, Europe and the United-States. Scholars from France, England, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Canada and the U.S.A. Scholars are actively involved in this international and interdisciplinary research project through their participation at national and international conferences focussed on word and image relationships, guest-lectures and seminars, the publication of special issues of learned journals. This research group organizes regular workshops for faculty and graduate students and lectures by eminent theorists and visual artists.  Close academic ties are also maintained with other international research groups such as l’ITEM (Paris) and L’Équipe FORELL (Poitiers).

Recent Events


Department of French/Centre for Comparative Literature
NF Hall, Victoria College
Tel: 416-585-4411
Fax: 416-585-4584