Image and Knowledge in Early Modern Books (seminar)

For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a spring 2018 faculty weekend seminar led by Daniela Bleichmar

This seminar will examine the ways in which images in early modern books participated in the production and circulation of knowledge ca. 1450–1800. Although during this period visual materials played central roles in books and in knowledge practices, the visual component of early modern books has often been neglected by the history of the book as a field. Twelve to sixteen scholars whose work intersects with a number of related fields will be selected to participate. Topics of discussion may include: comparisons across graphic-rich genres such as natural history, cartography, medicine, ethnography, antiquarianism, and historical accounts; the various types of work that images performed, including evidentiary, emblematic, allegorical, illustrative, and ornamental; images in printed versus manuscript books; the relationships between images, texts, and objects; the artistic and artisanal practices, materials, and techniques used to create images; the spaces and people involved in making and interpreting images; trust and mistrust of images in books; and the roles that images played in mediating cultural encounters between Western and non-Western cultures and traditions. Participants will engage with an exhibition curated by Caroline Duroselle-Melish, Folger Curator of Books and Prints, illustrating this rich and diverse visual history through the Folger collection of prints and engravings.

Director: Daniela Bleichmar is Associate Professor of Art History and History at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Visible Empire. Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment (2012) and Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin (2017). Her research addresses the history of science, visual culture, and material culture in colonial Latin American and early modern Europe, focusing particularly on matters of cultural contact and exchange.