As illustrated by the title of this volume, we often tend to think of arts and media in terms of geographic areas delineated by definable borders, and consequently of intermedial and interartial studies as a kind of topographical descriptions. Focusing on relations between music and literature, this article points to some of the implications of this topographical model, and contrasts it to another way of conceptualizing intermedial relations, namely as metaphorical phenomena. I argue that many musico-literary artefacts can be understood as a metaphorical interaction between their musical and verbal elements. Such interaction deals with, on the one hand, specific material ideas contained in each musico-literary work and, on the other hand, general ideas about the concepts “music” and “literature”. Hence, each musico-literary artefact can be understood as a meta-medial utterance, potentially altering the way we conceive of these arts and redrawing, as it were, the borders of the medial territories. I believe the metaphorical perspective to be a high-yielding one, but one which also entails at least a partial suspension of the topographical model: the metaphorical interaction between two elements presupposes their simultaneous presence. Such simultaneity, however, is suppressed by the topographical model, since it prompts us to envision the medial areas as spatially separate. As a result of this, the topographical model invites us to conceive of intermedial artefacts as objects which have been transported – carried across the bridge, as it were – into foreign territory, their identity remaining essentially unaltered even when their medium of origin is out of the picture. The metaphorical perspective, I argue, can help us get past this way of conceptualizing intermediality, as well as the equally questionable notions of media as historically constant and definable in terms of definite, essential characteristics.
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan , 2010. 69-80 p.