Go Figure addresses theories of the figure and practices of figuration ranging from classical rhetoric and biblical exegesis to semiotics, psychoanalysis, and socio-politics.
Situating theory in history, the essays in this volume focus on verbal and visual texts from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, and they explore science, sacramental poetics, romance and lyric narrative, and the natural world in still lifes, prayer, parasites, and politics. They engage the work of poets, painters, storytellers, and playwrights.
While the theories that inform them are many and various, they share a point of reference in the work of Jean-François Lyotard, who theorizes the co-presence in language of the figure and discourse: Lyotard’s figure relates to discourse as image emerges in description, as sense accompanies signification, and as energies shape texts from within. The original essays invited for the volume show how figural energies and forms inhabit both texts and the practices that produce them—how figures are fundamentally in play in the making of subjects, societies, traditions, and institutions.