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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Comparative Literature

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Jim Hicks

Second Advisor

Jessica Barr

Third Advisor

Karen Cardozo

Fourth Advisor

Mazen Naous

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature


This dissertation offers a comparative study of the poetic, verbal, visual and material dimensions of textuality. It asks the following questions: what does texture look like in our literary context? What does an attention to layers and fragility convey about or add to our reading experience? And how can they relate to the experience of loss? I argue that an engagement with textures may help account for a layered multidimensionality and that structural imageries—whether in relation to organic matter or textile or overlay—allow for the intersection of materiality and conceptuality in intricate patterns. I offer a poetic reading of intermedial visual and textual contemporary artworks that carry a problematic relationship to print culture: books as works of art in the case of bookarts by American artist Jody Alexander, words and images in the case of picturebooks by French author/illustrator Frédéric Clément, and a combination of verse and prose in ekphrastic poetry in the case of Lebanese poet Bassam Hajjar. In these case studies a multisensory attention to matters, textiles, and surfaces accentuates the fragility of expression through an emotional investment in materialities. In a textured reading that privileges the decorative and the ornamental, I show how the layering of details, voices, and patterns of repetition creates a heightened reception and a deep emotional state, all the while conveying a sense of loss. I conclude that to read texture is to prepare oneself for an experience of the ineffable, which renders its own limitations in its unique form of aesthetics, shrouding the inescapable loss in communication in an excess of material expression, enfolding the pain or the knowledge of impossibility or hesitancy into textured imagery for a textural experience.