~WORD OF THE DAY~
ekphrasis \EK-fruh-sis\ ~ noun
DEFINITION: a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art
EXAMPLES: As an assignment for her Rhetoric & Composition class, Samantha wrote an ekphrasis on the theme of emotional isolation in the paintings of Edward Hopper.
"As a genre, ekphrasis attempts to describe the painted image of Medusa, to put the other that Medusa is into words. Starting from Shelley’s poem, Mitchell proposes that ekphrasis is at once a minor and obscure genre (through which images are rendered verbally) and the principle of poetic art: poetry makes us ‘see’ literary images." -- From Anca Parvulescu's 2010 book Laughter: Notes on a Passion
DID YOU KNOW? Although "ekphrasis" (also spelled "ecphrasis") is a relatively new entry in the dictionary, the practice of using words to comment on a piece of visual art is an ancient one. One of the earliest and most commonly cited forms of ekphrasis occurs in The Iliad, when Homer provides a long and discursive account of the elaborate scenes embossed on the shield of Achilles. It should be no surprise, then, that the term "ekphrasis" derives from Greek, where it literally means "description" and was formed by combining the prefix "ex-" ("out") with the verb "phrazein" ("to point out or explain"). "Ekphrasis" first appeared in English in the early 18th century.
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