Conflict, Commerce, and an Aesthetic of Appropriation in the Italian Maritime Cities, 1000-1150, Karen Rose Mathews analyzes the relationship between war, trade, and the use of
spolia (appropriated objects from past and foreign cultures) as architectural decoration in the public monuments of the Italian maritime republics in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. This comparative study addressing five urban centers argues that the multivalence of
spolia and their openness to new interpretations made them the ideal visual form to define a distinct Mediterranean identity for the inhabitants of these cities, celebrating the wealth and prestige that resulted from the paired endeavors of war and commerce while referencing the cultures across the sea that inspired the greatest hostility, fear, or admiration.
During the nineteenth century, the American Mission Press in Beirut printed religious and secular publications written by foreign missionaries and Syrian scholars such as Nāṣīf al-Yāzijī and Buṭrus al-Bustānī, of later
nahḍa fame. In a region where presses were still not prevalent, letterpress-printed and lithographed works circulated within a larger network that was dominated by manuscript production. In this book, Hala Auji analyzes the American Press publications as important visual and material objects that provide unique insights into an era of changing societal concerns and shifting intellectual attitudes of Syria’s Muslim and Christian populations. Contending that printed books are worthy of close visual scrutiny, this study highlights an important place for print culture during a time of an emerging Arab modernity.