Essaying images: image and text in contemporary lyric essays

Rachel Robertson, Paul Hetherington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


As electronic publishing offers more opportunities for short form publication and the affordable reproduction of images alongside text, contemporary essayists are increasingly incorporating images into their work. This article investigates the interplay between image and text in three lyric essay collections—by Charles Simic, Susanne Paola Antonetta and Elizabeth Reeder—using the frame of Bakhtin’s dialogism and exploring new chains of responses that may be read into a textual work when images are incorporated alongside, between, or around the text. Such images are often inflected and construed by their essayistic contexts to the extent that they begin to be read poetically or lyrically, and when the ‘author(s)’ of such images are different from the author of the text that accompanies them, the reader may interpret the images as part of a polyphonic heteroglossia. By presenting examples of the conjunction of text and image in the lyric essay form, and by examining how visual imagery functions in narrative, we suggest creative ways of understanding such juxtapositioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-381
Number of pages12
JournalNew Writing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018


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