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Posted: Monday Mar 26, 2012

March 26, 2012

Dr. William Snyder, professor of English at Saint Vincent College, gave a panel presentation at the 43rd Annual Northeast Modern Language Association Conference in Rochester, New York, March 16.

“This cross-disciplinary multi-media analysis explores ways in which Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ connects to modern visual art,” Dr. Snyder commented. “Gilman’s text is a series of ‘compositions’ that serve as language analogs to several techniques routinely applied in modern canvases: collage, juxtaposition, color fields, ready-mades and ‘serial seeing.’ Gilman’s own training as a painter is implicit in the story’s ranging from the bright chromatics and quick execution of impressionist artists, to the geometric experimentation of the cubists and finally to the tortured swirls and lines and images of distress that typify post-impressionists. The first part of the text concentrates on views from the windows of the room, with the protagonist reporting quick impressions of colorful scenes of the garden, landscape and road outside, suggesting the imagery and technique of Claude Monet. This presentation then introduces watercolors done by Charlotte Perkins in the 1880s to reveal techniques on canvas which have affinities to impressionism, and which are implicated in the nature descriptions of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’ The final part of the story, where the wallpaper becomes the dominant canvas, is loaded with eccentric designs – doodles, tableaux, convoluted shapes, arabesque monochromes – suggesting canvases produced by Cezanne, van Gogh and Braque.”

“This presentation is part of my longstanding interest in the relation of visual to verbal art, dating back to my 1984 dissertation, which explored the affinities between the painting and poetry of English Romantic artists,” Dr. Snyder concluded.

This project was supported by a Saint Vincent College faculty development grant.


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