Call for Papers

« Gardening/Jardiner »

n36 (Fall 2020)

Intermediality: History and Theory of the Arts, Literature and Technologies

Guest editor:

Denis Ribouillault

(Université de Montréal)


Deadline for proposals (abstracts): May 1, 2019
Announcement of the final selection: May 15, 2019
Submission of papers for evaluation: November 15, 2019
Publication of the papers selected by the Editorial committee: Fall 2020



While intermedial perspectives have developed over the past twenty years to include literature, theatre, cinema, dance, and even tapestry, the garden has not yet been the subject of theoretical approaches that claim to be part of this new interdisciplinary trend. Yet much of the historiography and theory on gardens is based on the relationship between the arts. In this sense, the garden constitutes a formidable laboratory for thinking and rethinking intermediality.

Within Western art theory, however, the garden’s evident intermedial dimension has not contributed to its valorization, and its aesthetic status has been marginalized. Although marginal, the history of gardens is nevertheless inscribed within the history and theory of art by adopting an approach that privileges form and style and by differentiating the stages of its development in terms of their relationship to a particular medium. From this point of view, the organizing architectural principles of the Renaissance garden give way to the statuary and fountain designs of the Mannerist and Baroque gardens, which lead to the strictly pictorial design of landscaped gardens. The respective merits of each of these models will continue to animate debates on the garden until at least the nineteenth century. This paragon between the arts, based to a large extent on their ability to imitate (mimesis), an ability denied to the garden, was soon reappropriated by nationalist ideologies and emerged as a classification by “schools”—the Italian architectonic garden, the French formal garden, the English landscape garden—which, although still widespread today, offers a rather biased and partial view of the development of garden art in Europe.

Since the Renaissance, the social recognition of the garden designer has also relied heavily on his ability to adopt the precepts of recognized arts such as architecture, painting, poetry as well as mathematics and perspective. Today, it is readily acknowledged that the history of gardens is often characterized by a lack of reflexivity and an inability to develop a theory specific to gardens (Elkins, 1993). Such attitude, which should be questioned, undoubtedly reflects a lack of engagement with gardens in the humanities disciplines as well as an institutional marginalization, which should be addressed with some urgency. If garden history and theory seem poorly defined, is it not partly because of their long subordination to narrowly delineated scholarly disciplines, encouraged to compete with each other by institutions? Is it not perhaps because garden art has for too long been annexed to the other arts and has forgotten its own specificity, in particular that it consists of “lives,” of living things, of a “plant society” “governed” by the gardener, as the philosopher G.R.F. Ferrari (2010) has recently suggested? In this respect, intermediality could prove especially useful, since it would be “the product of the survival reflex of academic institutions, which can no longer build their scientific legitimacy on the sharing of knowledge between strictly defined disciplines,” as Jürgen E. Müller (2006) reminds us.

In recent decades, the cultural history of gardens has been enriched with social, political, and even anthropological approaches, which take into account its relationship to the land, to the environment, to places (the garden as heterotopia, according to Foucault), and to the cosmos itself. These approaches now put forward an analysis of the garden as a multimedia space marked by practices and performances—those of dance, theatre, poetry, music as well as games and scientific observation. Departing from the dual heritage of Marxist philosophy and phenomenology, questions concerning the place of the spectator as well as questions of movement, perception, and reception of the garden mobilize the researchers who no longer conceive the space of the garden as fixed, but, on the contrary, as lived and dynamic.

Philosophers, anthropologists, geographers, and creators of landscapes and gardens have developed in recent decades approaches that can clearly be described as intermedial. The philosopher Massimo Venturi Ferriolo (2006) insists on the need to study the landscape not as an object, but as “relational landscape.” This refers to, on the one hand, the relationship between the objects and the media constituting the landscape and the garden: “[A] landscape is an unequivocal image with multiple elements; an image with specificity and a particular character. An image determined by the ‘relational landscape’ and formed by each object’s place in relation to the other elements.” Or: “Every garden is at the centre of a set of relationships: it does not imitate or copy reality, but it displays a world and the vision for that world.” On the other hand, the “relational landscape” is concerned with the relationship between humans and their environment, which is at the basis of the landscape’s double and paradoxical ontology—between subject and object, both a representation constructed from data transmitted by the senses, memory, and culture and a sum of its material realities.

The relational ontology that today marks landscape studies is a theme resonating strongly in the texts of influential thinkers working on and in gardens. Thus, garden historians Monique Mosser and Hervé Brunon (2007) have developed the concept of the garden as “a mesocosm” (an intermediate place between the macrocosm and the microcosm), which finds its counterpart in the notion of “planetary garden” proposed by landscape architect Gilles Clément (1999). In both cases, the garden is understood as that piece of land where the “relation of humans to the totality of the universe” is inscribed, where “the contact of the intelligible and the sensible” materializes, where “the subject and the object blend.” In both cases, what is at stake in the era of the Anthropocene is a renegotiation of the relationship of Western man to nature and a questioning of the separation between nature and culture. This separation, well examined by Philippe Descola in Beyond Nature and Culture (2005), is expressed in Western culture through a distancing between humankind and the landscape (in particular, due to the invention of perspective) or the triumph of humankind over nature in the space of the garden.

When applied to the space of the garden, intermediality may be tempted to take up the history of such constructions and, specifically, that of distancing/objectivation, which has been established gradually and in various forms between humans and their physical milieu. However, this history has not always been contentious. Hervé Brunon (2015) recently reminded us of this when he proposed an “archeology of the garden relation,” which aims to identify and study the moments of “respectful friendships” between humans and plants, rocks, heaven and earth. Petrarch’s letters about his retirement from Vaucluse or Henry David Thoreau’s account of the autarchic life he experimented with in the woods of New England remind us that such “respectful friendships” have been, and still are, possible. The garden would thus draw attention to the place of reciprocal benevolence between humans and nature, described in the great garden myths (Eden, Arcadia, Hesperides, etc.), but which Aristotle wished to exclude: “[T]here cannot be a relation of friendship nor justice towards inanimate objects, nor is there any such relation to a horse or an ox, nor to a slave insofar as he is a slave” (The Nicomachean Ethics, Book VIII).

Non-Western civilizations offer profoundly different relational models in regard to non-human beings. Moreover, it is symptomatic that the work of Western scholars attentive to humankind’s “modes of identification” with nature, or the representations/constructions resulting from such identifications, has been nourished by these researchers’ contact with non-Western cultures. In his article, Hervé Brunon dedicates a long paragraph to ancient China, where humans and their physical surroundings (including the garden) appear to be integral to one another. Philippe Descola’s encounter with the Achuar indigenous people of Amazonia was the starting point from which he built his work and, through this contact, he was able to rethink the landscape from the idea of “transfiguration” in visu or in situ. Similarly, Augustin Berque’s (1990; 2016) concept of mediance or the reactivation of mesology finds its origin in Berque’s training as an orientalist. For example, in the Heian period in Japan (794–1185), “placing of stones” meant “making a garden.” For the creators of the garden, it is not a question only of arranging the selected stones in a harmonious manner. The stone itself is endowed with intentionality. The stone “wants” to become an artwork. The place of the work (the garden) is thus a place “at work,” a place “in perpetual genesis of what isn’t yet and what will no longer be tomorrow” and where the human being is able to listen to and feel the language of stones and nature. Intermediality or relational aesthetics in contemporary art, as defined by Nicolas Bourriaud (1998), propose to think the relationship between humans (between the artist, his works and his audience) or between media, but we also need to rethink the relationship (in the garden) between humans and non-humans (on the one hand, patrons, visitors, gardeners and on the other, plants, animals, or rocks), in light of works that present the garden as the laboratory of a relational ontology, as a “planetary garden” where the gardener is co-creator with nature, where one “thinks and feels […] with the earth,” as Arturo Escobar points out in his recent work on “ecology beyond the West” (2018).

This issue of Intermediality will bring together texts that offer critical reflections on the intermedial relations in the space of the garden, and the ways in which they illuminate, or even define, the relations between man (or woman) and the garden. The questions that this issue will address are based on a precise analysis of gardens, real or not, from all geographical locations and time periods and using various methodologies. Non-Western cultures and the relational modes they construct within the spaces of gardens will be of particular interest. Submissions can focus on, or partially address, one or more of the following questions and themes (but not limited to them):

–      the relationships between the arts in the space of the garden;

–      multidisciplinary training of the landscaper-gardener and the effects thereof;

–      the role of the arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, etc.) in the historiography of gardens in the West and in the rest of the world;

–      the contribution of postcolonial approaches to the study of intermedial relations in gardens—but also studies on women and gardens and gender studies more generally (one can cite here Lisa L. Moore’s book Sister Arts: The Erotics of Lesbian Landscapes);

–      the revision of some of the ideas concerning the relationship between nature and culture in the historiography of gardens (as in, for instance, Gregory Quenet’s work on Versailles);

–      the place of garden history and theory in the humanities disciplines;

–      How can intermediality contribute to the advancement of a garden theory (and vice versa);

–      In what ways do intermedial and interhuman relationships in the garden reflect the organizational structures (social, political) of a given society;

–      “respectful friendships” (according to H. Brunon) in the garden;

–      intentionality of non-human beings in the garden.




Intermédialités/Intermediality is a biannual, internationally renowned peer-reviewed journal. It publishes articles in both French and English.

Proposals (max. 700 words) in English or French should be sent to the issue editor at the following email:

The Editorial board will announce its selection of abstracts on May 15, 2019 and papers should be completed by November 15, 2019. Final submissions will go through a double-blind peer review and the editorial board will reach a final decision on acceptations during the fall of 2020. Selected papers will be published in the spring of 2017. Submissions should be no longer than 6,000 words (40,000 characters, including spaces) and should be sent as email attachments to the issue editors. Authors are encouraged to use audio, visual, still, or animated illustrations when appropriate.

Authors are requested to follow the submission guidelines available at:



For more information on Intermédialités/Intermedialities, please consult the journal issues available through the online portal Érudit:




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Berque, Augustin, « La relation perceptive en mésologie : du cercle fonctionnel d’Uexküll à la trajection paysagère », Revue du MAUSS, vol. 47, n° 1, Paris, La Découverte, 2016, p. 87‒104, Doi : 10.3917/rdm.047.0087, (accessed 17 January 2019).

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Brunon, Hervé and Mosser, Monique, « L’enclos comme parcelle et totalité du monde : pour une approche holistique de l’art des jardins », Dossiers sur l’Art, n° 73‒76, January‒June 2007, special issue on Art et espace, p. 59‒75, (accessed 17 January 2019).

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Clément, Gilles, « De l’animisme archaïque à l’animisme écologique. La place du jardinier », in Hervé Brunon (ed.), Le Jardin, notre double. Sagesse et déraison, Paris, Autrement, 1999, p. 219‒230.

Clément, Gilles, Le Jardin planétaire. Réconcilier l’homme et la nature, Paris, Albin Michel, 1999.

Descola, Philippe, Par-delà nature et culture, Paris, Gallimard, 2005.

Elkins, James, « On the Conceptual Analysis of Gardens », The Journal of Garden History, vol. 13, n° 4, 1993, p. 189‒198, (accessed 17 January 2019).

Escobar, Arturo, Sentir-penser avec la Terre. L’écologie au-delà de l’Occident, Paris, Seuil, 2018.

Ferrari, G. R. F., « The Meaninglessness of Gardens », The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. LXVIII, n° 1, Winter 2010, p. 33‒45 (accessed 17 January 2019).

Harrison, Robert, Réflexions sur la condition humaine, trans. Florence Naugrette, Paris, Le Pommier, 2007.

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Mariniello, Silvestra, « L’intermédialité : un concept polymorphe », in Célia Vieira and Isabel Rio Novo (eds.), Études en intermédialité, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2010, p. 11‒29.

Méchoulan, Éric, « Intermédialités : le temps des illusions perdues », Intermédialités, n° 1, 2003, p. 9-27, (accessed 17 January 2019).

Moore, Lisa L., Sister Arts: The Erotics of Lesbian Landscapes, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

Mosser, Monique, « La réunion des arts est dans le jardin », in Daniel Rabreau and Bruno Tollon (eds.), Le Progrès des Arts réunis 1763‒1815. Mythe culturel, des origines de la Révolution à la fin de l’Empire ? Bordeaux, William Blake &Co., 1992, p. 171‒185.

Müller, Jürgen E., « Vers l’intermédialité. Histoires, positions et options d’un axe de pertinence », MédiaMorphoses, n° 16, 2006, p. 99‒110, (accessed 17 January 2019).

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Venturi Ferriolo, Massimo, « Jardins, nouveaux paysages : la puissance du regard », Neo-Landscape, Évora, Université d’Évora; Tipografia Peres, 2006, p. 81‒86; see the full transcription at (accessed 17 January 2019).