Language and Visuality in the Renaissance Aesthetics, Theology, Theatre (colloquium)

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

This was a year-long colloquium held from 2002–2003 and led by Leonard Barkan and Nigel Smith.

Most scholars of early modern literature and history encounter the relationship between the verbal and the pictorial; whether they are studying poems or paintings; the immaterial text or the material book; the realization of a verbal artifact in the theatre or the realization of royal power in the performance of monarchy; the religious power of the icon or the aesthetic power of the image. Too often, however, the underlying problematic of words and pictures is treated as a matter of secondary or even peripheral concern. This colloquium proposed to place that relationship at the center of attention. Participants explored how the interconnections of reading and seeing, painting and writing, or drawing and printing operated as dominant frameworks of understanding and analysis in the literature, culture, and politics of early modern Europe. Materials for reading and discussion were circulated in advance of each monthly session. Taking subject cues from the work-in-progress of participants (around which discussions will be organized), the readings also included at least one published article or book chapter. The year-long series invited projects that address such topics as rhetoric and figura, playtexts and theatrical performance, the classical tradition and its recovery, the heritage of Horace and Longinus, the lives of artists, ekphrasis, emblems, limning, perspective, portraiture, diplomacy and politics, iconoclasm, iconophobia, scripture painting, and pictorial theories of language.

Directors: Leonard Barkan is Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. He is the author of the Unearthing the Past: Archeology and Aesthetics in the Making of Renaissance Culture (1999) among other works.

Nigel Smith is Professor of English at Princeton University. He is the author of Literature and Revolution in England, 1640–1660 (1994), among other works.