Introduction: Time and the Audiences of Visual Judgment

  • Sachi Shimomura
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


At the trial of the Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, the King, acting as judge, gives the White Rabbit a quick lesson on reading: “Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”1 What he doesn’t spell out, but instead shows by performance, is the site of judgment for a narrative read as evidence; judgment—the conclusive decision as to what precisely the evidence discloses—should take place only after the end of and outside the narration. While the linear teleology of reading (from beginning to end) and the placement of its judging audience (outside) may both seem obvious, the “end” and “outside” of a story are not always so clearly defined.2 Shahrazad, famed storyteller of the 1001 Nights, capitalizes on this difficulty. Her stories neither end simply, nor involve trivial inside-outside distinctions, as her narrative breeds stories within stories until it no longer expresses an uncomplicated division between “inside” and “outside.”3


Medieval Period Visual Judgment Religious Language Green Girdle Narrative Closure 
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  1. 1.
    Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, ed. Donald J. Grey (New York: Norton, 1971), p. 94.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Northrop Frye, The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1976), pp. 10–11.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Tzvetan Todorov, “Narrative-Men,” in The Poetics of Prose, trans. Richard Howard (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977 ), p. 70.Google Scholar

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© Sachi Shimomura 2006

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  • Sachi Shimomura

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