Early Modern Thesis Prints in the Southern Netherlands

An Iconological Analysis of the Relationships between Art, Science and Power


Winner of the 2023 Menno Hertzberger Encouragement Prize (Book History)

In Early Modern Thesis Prints in the Southern Netherlands, Gwendoline de Mûelenaere offers an account of the practice of producing illustrated thesis prints in the seventeenth-century Southern Low Countries. She argues that the evolution of the thesis print genre gave rise to the creation of a specific visual language combining efficiently various figurative registers of a historical and symbolic nature. The book offers a reflection on the representation of knowledge and its public recognition in the context of academic defenses.

Early Modern Thesis Prints makes a timely contribution to our understanding of early modern print culture and more specifically to the expanding field of study concerned with the role of visual materials in early modern thought.

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Gwendoline de Mûelenaere, Ph.D. (2017, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium), is a postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University. She has published a dozen articles on thesis prints and illustrated lecture notebooks produced in the Southern Low Countries.


1 Development of the Production of Thesis Prints in the Southern Netherlands
 A Teaching in the Spanish Netherlands
 B Development of Thesis Broadsides during the Seventeenth Century
 C The Antwerp Context in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century
 D Other Productions in the Southern Low Countries
 E Print Run, Distribution, and Conservation of Thesis Prints

2 The Manufacture of the Thesis Engraving
 A The Broadsheet Medium: Complementarity of Text and Image
 B Status of the Image: From Knowledge Organization to Message Coding
 C The Posters, “Ephemera”?
 D Towards a “Painting-Page”: Progressive Iconization of the Margin
 E Devices for Framing and Displaying Text: From Ornament to Allegory

3 The Use of Symbolic Language in Thesis Prints
 A Personifications: Noetic and Encomiastic Issues
 B Justitia, Academic Discipline and Imperial Virtue: Theses Addressed to Ferdinand III and His Son
 C Paradoxical Formulas to Give Multiple Praise: Theses Dedicated to Leopold Wilhelm of Austria
 D The Celebration of the Virgin Mary

4 Staging the Placards within the Context of Court Patronage
 A Mise en abyme of the Donation
 B Public Defense, a Baroque Spectacle


Catalogue of Thesis Prints
 A List of Illustrations
 B List of Thesis Prints by Teaching Institution
 C List of Thesis Prints by Location
 A Primary Sources
 B Secondary Sources
Specialists and students in art history and in print culture, historians of science and education, researchers in visual studies, and literary scholars of the early modern period. Keywords: Jesuits, Old University of Louvain, Habsburgs, print culture, engravings, broadsides, text-image relationship, allegory, personification, dedication, gift-giving, mise en abyme, visualization of knowledge, academic defense, patronage.
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