Image and Text as a Means of Cross-Cultural Transfer

  • Project Status
  • Execution period
    2020 — 2022ongoing
  • Project lead Assoc. Prof. Kalina Zahova, PhD
  • Financing
    Equivalent Non-financial Exchange

Research Team: Asst. Prof. Alenka Koron (coordinator), Prof. Marko Juvan, Assoc. Prof. Marijan Dović, Asst. Prof. Andraž Jež, Asst. Prof. Matija Ogrin, Asst. Prof. Jernej Habjan, Asst. Prof. Luka Vidmar, Monika Deželak Trojar, Andrejka Žejn, Mojca Šorli, Nina Ditmajer (ZRC SAZU Inštitut za slovensko literaturo in literarne vede); Senior Asst. Prof. Kalina Zahova (lead researcher), Prof. Alexander Panov, Prof. Ana Stoykova, Prof. Angel Angelov, Prof. Anisava Miltenova, Prov Ivan Mladenov, Assoc. Prof. Maya Petrova, Assoc. Prof. Radoslava Stankova, Assoc. Prof. Raya Kuncheva, Senior Asst. Prof. Andrey Tashev, Senior Asst. Galina Georgieva, Senior Asst. Prof. Georgi Iliev, Senior Asst. Prof. Dilyana Radoslavova, Senior Asst. Prof. Regina Koycheva, Senior Asst. Prof. Aleksandar Feodorov


In literary and cultural studies, image and text traditionally figure as a central means of inter-literary and inter-cultural circulation. The notion of image can be understood in its literal sense, as a phenomenon of the visual media or, conversely, as an inherently textual representation. Every image, in turn, is also a text in the broader semiotic sense. Visual images such as paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, or film/TV pictures enable circulation of meanings and representations across different languages and zones of culture. As signs, images can be verbalized (ekphrasis) and vice versa, verbal images can acquire their visual counterpart. This is testified by European religious imagery (icons, illuminations, paintings, graphics, and murals) which, in the Middle Ages and Early Modernity, translated the scripture into a code that could be understood by the illiterate. In addition, visual images also encapsulated literary motives and narratives, thus circulating them across languages and cultures.

Image and text therefore establish a platform of complex interrelations. Their theoretical and historical configurations call for examination from various perspectives. They require application of different and even mutually excluding methodologies, since images and texts appear through heterogeneous concretizations. One approach to examine the interrelations between image and text is the growing field of digital humanities. Starting from the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, the research will focus on iconic and textological issues of the Old Bulgarian Corpus and Early Modern Slovenian documents to probe their relevance to digital text processing and the concomitant content analysis, analysis of genres, terminology, and prosopographic data. Among the genres to which these analytical approaches can be successfully applied is so-called paratextual or parabiblical literature, which marks early periods of Bulgarian as well as Slovenian literature.

Another research area of the project will be the role of text and image in the literary history of the 19th and 20th centuries. In the perspective of imagological method of comparative literature, the project will attempt to trace the circulation of the mass-movement and revolutionary imagery (such as that of the Spring of Nations and the “long 1968”) in order to compare its visual and textual concretizations in Slovenia and Bulgaria (including countercultural phenomena such as comics). From the perspective of intermediality, the research will analyse the image-text interaction in the historical avant-gardes and neo-avant-gardes.

The complex relations between image and text are crucial also for many other realms of contemporary cultural studies (film, video, performance, visual art, new media). Hence, our interdisciplinary approach is meant to encourage the comparative research of Bulgarian and Slovenian literatures in the broader context of media studies and cultural semiotics. The added value of the project is its close examination of the intersections of images and text, literature and visual arts largely based on the methods of digital humanities.