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Tributes to Prof. John Lowden from his Students, Friends and Colleagues
The twenty-eight essays in this collection showcase cutting-edge research in manuscript studies, encompassing material from late antiquity to the Renaissance. The volume celebrates the exceptional contribution of John Lowden to the study of medieval books. The authors explore some of the themes and questions raised in John’s work, tackling issues of meaning, making, patronage, the book as an object, relationships between text and image, and the transmission of ideas. They combine John’s commitment to the close scrutiny of manuscripts with an interrogation of what the books meant in their own time and what they mean to us now.
The contributors to this volume share the assumption that popular narrative, when viewed with an evolutionary lens, offers an incisive index into human nature. In theory, narrative art could take a near infinity of possible forms. In actual practice, however, particular motifs, plot patterns, stereotypical figures, and artistic devices persistently resurface, indicating specific predilections frequently at odds with our actual living conditions. Our studies explore various media and genres to gauge the impact of our evolutionary inheritance, in interdependence with the respective cultural environments, on our aesthetic appreciation. As they suggest, research into mass culture is not only indispensable for evolutionary criticism but may also contribute to our understanding of prehistoric selection pressures that still influence modern preferences in popular narrative.

Contributions by David Andrews, James Carney, Mathias Clasen, Brett Cooke, Tamás Dávid-Barrett, Tom Dolack, Kathryn Duncan, Isabel Behncke Izquierdo, Joe Keener, Alex C. Parrish, Todd K. Platts, Anna Rotkirch, Judith P. Saunders, Michelle Scalise Sugiyama, Dirk Vanderbeke, and Sophia Wege.
The Antique as Innovation
In Jacopo Strada and Cultural Patronage at the Imperial Court: Antiquity as Innovation, Dirk Jansen provides a survey of the life and career of the antiquary, architect, and courtier Jacopo Strada (Mantua 1515-Vienna 1588). His manifold activities — also as a publisher and as an agent and artistic and scholarly advisor of powerful patrons such as Hans Jakob Fugger, the Duke of Bavaria and the Emperors Ferdinand I and Maximilian II — are examined in detail, and studied within the context of the cosmopolitan learned and courtly environments in which he moved. These volumes offer a substantial reassessment of Strada’s importance as an agent of change, transmitting the ideas and artistic language of the Italian Renaissance to the North.
A Cultural History of the Avant-Garde in the Nordic Countries 1925-1950 is the first publication to deal with the avant-garde in the Nordic countries in this period. The essays cover a wide range of avant-garde manifestations: literature, visual arts, theatre, architecture and design, film, radio, body culture and magazines. It is the first major historical work to consider the Nordic avant-garde in a transnational perspective that includes all the arts and to discuss the role of the avant-garde not only within the aesthetic field but in a broader cultural and political context: the pre-war and wartime responses to international developments, the new cultural institutions, sexual politics, the impact of refugees and the new start after the war.
Investigating Embodied Meaning, Indigenous Semiotics, and the Nahua Sense of Reality
In her groundbreaking investigation from the perspective of the aesthetics of religion, Isabel Laack explores the religion and art of writing of the pre-Hispanic Aztecs of Mexico. Inspired by postcolonial approaches, she reveals Eurocentric biases in academic representations of Aztec cosmovision, ontology, epistemology, ritual, aesthetics, and the writing system to provide a powerful interpretation of the Nahua sense of reality.
Laack transcends the concept of “sacred scripture” traditionally employed in religions studies in order to reconstruct the Indigenous semiotic theory and to reveal how Aztec pictography can express complex aspects of embodied meaning. Her study offers an innovative approach to nonphonographic semiotic systems, as created in many world cultures, and expands our understanding of human recorded visual communication.
This book will be essential reading for scholars and readers interested in the history of religions, Mesoamerican studies, and the ancient civilizations of the Americas.

'This excellent book, written with intellectual courage and critical self-awareness, is a brilliant, multilayered thought experiment into the images and stories that made up the Nahua sense of reality as woven into their sensational ritual performances and colorful symbolic writing system.'
- Davíd Carrasco, Harvard University
"Il buono amore è di bellezza disio"
Beauty is a central concept in the Italian cultural imagination throughout its history and in virtually all its manifestations. It particularly permeates the domains that have governed the construction of Italian identity: literature and language. The Idea of Beauty in Italian Literature and Language assesses this long tradition in a series of essays covering a wide chronological and thematic range, while crossing from historical linguistics to literary and cultural studies. It offers elements for reflection on cross-disciplinary approaches in the humanities, and demonstrates the power of beauty as a fundamental category beyond aesthetics.
Photography and the Sense of Place
Picturing America: Photography and the Sense of Place argues that photography is a prevalent practice of making American places. Its collected essays epitomize not only how pictures situate us in a specific place, but also how they create a sense of such mutable place-worlds. Understanding photographs as prime sites of knowledge production and advocates of socio-political transformations, a transnational set of scholars reveals how images enact both our perception and conception of American environments. They investigate the power photography yields in shaping our ideas of self, nation, and empire, of private and public space, through urban, landscape, wasteland and portrait photography. The volume radically reconfigures how pictures alter the development of American places in the past, present, and future.
The Historical Course of an Image
Justice Blindfolded gives an overview of the history of "justice" and its iconography through the centuries. Justice has been portrayed as a woman with scales, or holding a sword, or, since the fifteenth century, with her eyes bandaged. This last symbol contains the idea that justice is both impartial and blind, reminding indirectly of the bandaged Christ on the cross, a central figure in the Christian idea of fairness and forgiveness.
In this rich and imaginative journey through history and philosophy, Prosperi manages to convey a full account of the ways justice has been described, portrayed and imagined.

Translation of Giustizia bendata. Percorsi storici di un'immagine (Einaudi, 2008).
In The World Upside Down in 16th Century French Literature and Visual Culture Vincent Robert-Nicoud offers an interdisciplinary account of the topos of the world upside down in early modern France. To call something ‘topsy-turvy’ in the sixteenth century is to label it as abnormal. The topos of the world upside down evokes a world in which everything is inside-out and out of bounds: fish live in trees, children rule over their parents, and rivers flow back to their source. The world upside down proves to be key in understanding how the social, political, and religious turmoil of sixteenth-century France was represented and conceptualised, and allows us to explore the dark side of the Renaissance by unpacking one of its most prevalent metaphors.
Footprints of the Dance — An Early Seventeenth-Century Dance Master’s Notebook by Jennifer Nevile provides new, fascinating and detailed information on the life of an early-seventeenth-century dance master in Brussels. The dance master’s handwritten notebook contains unique material: a canon of dance figures and instructions for an exhibition with a pike; as well as signatures and general descriptions of his students, ballet plots and music associated with dancing. Reproduced for the first time are facsimile images of all the dance-related material, with transcriptions and translations of the ballet plots and instructions for the pike exhibition. The dance master is revealed as an active choreographer and performer, with strong ties to the French court musical establishment, and interested in fireworks and alchemy.