Ekphrasis/exscription: Jean-Luc Nancy on Thinking and Touching Art

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The chapter explores the double quality of the image via the work of the contemporary French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, notably through his notions of ‘exscription’ and touch. In Nancy’s thought, signification and presence, the readable and the visible are articulated in a relation of mutual touching and withdrawal that is lateral, metonymic, and works in both directions. And if this is what W. J. T. Mitchell might term an ambivalent account of ekphrasis, it is not a relation of indifference. Rather, the signifying surface and its non-signifying other are turned towards one another in a non-appropriating embrace. If ekphrasis is a writing out, it is only in so far as all writing exscribes. And if the image is written out in ekphrasis, the image in its turn exscribes something within it - that which is not reducible to signification. Each mode is inaccessible from within the other, but, in Nancy’s thinking of ekphrasis, they press up against each other at the surface where they meet.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEkphrastic Encounters
Subtitle of host publicationNew Interdisciplinary Essays on Literature and the Visual Arts
EditorsRichard Meek, David Kennedy
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781526125811
ISBN (Print)9781526125798
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Jean-Luc Nancy
  • ekphrasis


Dive into the research topics of 'Ekphrasis/exscription: Jean-Luc Nancy on Thinking and Touching Art'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this