Physiognomy, Cosmography, and Other Itchy Pictures: Vexed Viewing in the Early Modern Print

Fool’s Cap Map of the World, Bodleian Library, Oxford University

Wednesday, October 25, 2017
4:00 pm PDT – 5:00 pm PDT

Royce Hall, Room 306
10745 Dickson Plaza

Early Modern Cosmopolitanisms Lecture

—Stephanie Leitch, Florida State University


New observational tools developed during the sixteenth century that commanded the viewer to attention. Abandoning strategies to capture the unblinking stare of the medieval devotee, prints now incentivized sharp seeing in their readers and encouraged a critical and judgmental eye. Ancient genres like physiognomy and cosmography were retooled by printers who developed visual formats that prepared the reader for new interactive experience with the world. Printed trick images, or Vexierbilder, developed alongside these genres and shared some of their concerns about viewing practices. This lecture inspects the connection between the subject matter of portraiture, cosmography, and such puzzle pictures, considering both the potential and the limits of early modern vernacular viewing.

Stephanie Leitch is the author of Mapping Ethnography in Early Modern Germany: New Worlds in Print Culture (2010) and a variety of articles dealing with the intersection of early modern printmaking and development of knowledge. Her current project Vernacular Viewing: the Art of Observation in the Early Modern Print explores how printed illustration coached and shaped early modern visual decision-making. She is associate professor of Art History at Florida State University.

This lecture is presented as part of Early Modern Cosmopolitanisms, a lecture series hosted by Barbara Fuchs (University of California, Los Angeles) and Andrew Devereux (Loyola Marymount University) and sponsored by the UCLA Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies.

No registration is required.

Contact Jeanette LaVere at jlavere@humnet.ucla.edu or 310-206-8552.