The Linguo-Cognitive Aspect of Ekphrastic References in a Literary Text (Based on the Works by D. Rubina and M. Atwood)

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2021, Vol. 7. № 1 (25)

The Linguo-Cognitive Aspect of Ekphrastic References in a Literary Text (Based on the Works by D. Rubina and M. Atwood)

For citation: Gavin P. I., Ponomareva O. B. 2021. “The Linguo-Cognitive Aspect of Ekphrastic References in a Literary Text (Based on the Works by D. Rubina and M. Atwood)”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 7, no. 1 (25), pp. 62-79. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2021-7-1-62-79

About the authors:

Polina I. Gavin, Postgraduate Student, University of Tyumen;

Olga B. Ponomareva, Dr. Sci. (Philol.), Professor, Department of the English Language, University of Tyumen;; Scopus Author ID: 56998471200


The following article explores ekphrasis as a literary device in the context of the Russian and English language literary texts. The phenomenon of ekphrasis is regarded to be a relatively researched area in the literary criticism. However, the majority of the existing research focuses on the visual representations in the verbal medium, thereby neglecting the aspect of the reader’s possible interpretation of an ekphrastic description and its stylistic expression in a literary text. Thus, the aim of this article is to identify the specific language patterns constructing ekphrastic references in the Russian and English language literary texts by conducting a comparative linguo-cognitive analysis of ekphrastic intertextual references in Dina Rubina’s ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ (2006) and Margaret Atwood’s ‘Cat’s Eye’ (1988).

The research is based on the comparative linguo-cognitive analysis combining the following cognitive poetic techniques: the ‘figure — ground’ dichotomy, the model of literary resonance, and the narrative interrelation theory.

The analysis of the figure-ground relations in ekphrastic descriptions has shown that the main character takes the figure position and becomes a pronounced attractor, thereby exerting an affective influence on the reader’s perception. The application of the literary resonance model confirms this claim by identifying typical semantic, syntactic and stylistic features (attractors) of the character in the analysed ekphrastic passages. The comparison of an ekphrastic description to a passage which it is based on has revealed the characteristic parallelism of their syntactic and semantic patterns. In part, parallel constructions contain specific intertextual references that create links to an art object, thus actualising the representation of a picture in the reader’s perception.

A comparative linguo-cognitive analysis of ekphrastic references in Russian and English literary texts has shown the possible intratextuality of ekphrastic references, which establish the relationships between plots within the narrative. Additionally, in both literary texts, ekphrastic references imitate the visual construction of an object of art at the semantic, syntactic and textual levels and, as a result, accentuate the metaphorical realisation of the presented artefact.


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