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    Facing the Fact: Word and Image in Muriel Rukeyser's 'Worlds Alongside'


    Gander, Catherine (2013) Facing the Fact: Word and Image in Muriel Rukeyser's 'Worlds Alongside'. Journal of Narrative Theory, 43 (3). 288-328,417. ISSN 1549-0815

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    Abstract

    In 1939, the small format picture magazine Coronet featured two photo- textual experiments. These were arranged as a “portfolio of photographs” supported by a poetic prose “narrative” by Muriel Rukeyser. They were published in the September and October issues, and were titled, respectively, “Adventures of Children” and “Worlds Alongside.” The photo-narratives were experimental not least in the fact that they did not adhere to established contemporary formulae regarding the presentation of word- image pairings in magazine reports, such as those featured in Life or Time since the height of the Great Depression, as well as those featured previously in the more arts-orientated Coronet. Hailed by the editors of Coronet as “infinitely superior to the usual picture-gallery treatment” of photographs and descriptive captions in the publication (120), Rukeyser’s photo-narratives nevertheless puzzled several readers, offended some, and remain an intriguing and, I argue, vital part of her oeuvre. For the purposes of this essay, which will attempt to unravel the complexity of Rukeyser’s use of word and image, tracing the aesthetic, ideological, and poetic implications of her photo-narrative work, I will dedicate my analysis to the second of the pieces, “Worlds Alongside.” Although both photo-narratives utilize the format of the picture magazine to explore dual aspects of modern life—the separate yet parallel social spheres of wealth and poverty, of civilized sophistication and primitive simplicity, for example—“Worlds Alongside,” as its title would indicate, provides a richer text through which to interrogate these themes, as well as Rukeyser’s management of them.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Photographs; Poetry; Coronets; Documentary photography; Postmasters; Literary criticism; Montage; Ethics; Alterity;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > School of English, Media & Theatre Studies > English
    Item ID: 11440
    Depositing User: Catherine Gander
    Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2019 15:52
    Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Narrative Theory
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

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