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Bringing together distinguished scholars in honor of Professor Teofilo F. Ruiz, this volume presents original and innovative research on the critical and uneasy relationship between authority and spectacle in the period from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries, focusing on Spain, the Mediterranean and Latin America. Cultural scholars such as Professor Ruiz and his colleagues have challenged the notion that authority is elided with high politics, an approach that tends to be monolithic and disregards the uneven application and experience of power by elite and non-elite groups in society by highlighting the significance of spectacle. Taking such forms as ceremonies, rituals, festivals, and customs, spectacle is a medium to project and render visible power, yet it is also an ambiguous and contested setting, where participants exercise the roles of both actor and audience. Chapters in this collection consider topics such as monarchy, wealth and poverty, medieval cuisine and diet and textual and visual sources. The individual contributions in this volume collectively represent a timely re-examination of authority that brings in the insights of cultural theory, ultimately highlighting the importance of representation and projection, negotiation and ambivalence.
Are images and spectacles fundamental mediators of power relationships in the West? This book draws upon the language of cultural studies to investigate a contemporary hypothesis in the shifting ideological landscape of early modern Europe. Apparently aesthetic choices by artists may also have been the means to consolidate and subvert institutionalized or non-institutionalized bodies of power. Meanwhile, communities in Europe reacted to the intrinsic power of the image in literature and letters, commenting upon both its use and abuse. Both diachronic and geographic connections are made among disparate but important moments of image making in the twelfth through seventeenth centuries. The influence of Descartes is traced from La Rochefoucauld and the communal spectacles of the Ancien Régime salon, to the Netherlands and Rembrandt’s sketch, Death of the Virgin. Shakespeare bears similar anxieties about Joan of Arc’s transgression of gender boundaries in Henry VI, as does Castiglione’s Courtier when serving the Renaissance Prince. Spenser’s dilemma about the (non)difference between fiction and history resolves itself in the same way as does the Byzantine rejection of iconoclasm. Other articles in the collection examine anomie in Vatican frescoes by Giorgio Vasari, corporeal decay and the supernatural as spectacle on the early modern English stage, and affective self-perception and subjectivity in the scoring of Italian opera. ""[..] not as "just" a conference volume, but [as] an organic group of essays on early modernity. The essays span an impressive number of cultures – from "Byzantium" to England, Italy and Spain to the Netherlands – and theorize the image from a number of disciplinary vantage points. Not surprisingly, art history and theatre are well-represented, but so are music history and literary studies. Most of the essays are short, but sufficiently developed to allow for thoughtful arguments on the status of the visual in early modern culture: on the stage, on the page, and as artistic and musical representation. […] "they [do] deliver fine close readings and leave me sufficiently intrigued to want to return to, or familiarize myself with, the original "texts." I come away from this collection encouraged about the state of graduate studies in Europe and North America." —Jane Tylus, Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, New York University "The essays are interdisciplinary and touch upon many themes that lie outside my own field of specialization. I was therefore surprised and pleased to find them not only original and instructive, but also inviting and accessible to the non-specialist. Although they range far with respect to chronology and theoretical suppositions, they are coherently united in their concern for the functioning of the image in the conservation, revision or critique of socio-political power in their respective cultural contexts. I will mention three essays, representing three different fields, as striking examples of disparate images used to consolidate, reconstruct or overthrow the dominant powers of their times. Kathryn Falzareno's essay, "Mother's Milk and Deborah's Sword," is a close reading of Shakespeare's portrayal of Joan of Arc in Henry VI. It is a close analysis of the paradoxical status of Joan, Saint of the French, strumpet for the English, Christian warrior maiden, contrasting with Deborah in the Ancient Testament. The dominant and totally unexpected image which brings together the contradictions embodied by Joan are the breasts, the source of nurture in the figure of Mary, but an encumbrance for the mythological amazons who removed one breast to facilitate their use of the bow. Ljubica Ilic's "Echo and Narcissus: Labyrinths of the Self," is an elegant reading of "echo music," the apparently impossible "translation" of the Ovidian story into music and opera. Ovid's story represents the nymph Echo as the auditory equivalent of Narcissus' reflection -- echoing sound as reflecting light. Ovid's echo myth undoubtedly influenced opera by Jacopo Peri (during the time of the Medici) and then, Monteverdi in the musical setting of "Orfeo." Finally, Elissa Auerbach's "Taking Mary's Pulse: Cartesianism and Modernity in Rembrandt's 'Death of the Virgin' " is a brilliant commentary on the Dutch painter's rendering of an ancient theme, the "dormition" of the Virgin, but at the center of the painting is the figure of a physician taking the pulse of her limp hand. The intrusion of this "scientific" element in the ancient iconography of the event of Mary's death is the unmistakeable sign of the wave of modernity that swept over the Netherlands with the popularity of Cartesian philosophy and science." —John Freccero, Professor of Italian and Comp. Lit., NYU
Interrogating how medieval and early modern communities have acted as participants, observers, and interpreters of events and how they ascribed meaning to them, the essays in this collection explore the experience of individual or collective beholders of violence during the period. Addressing a range of medieval and early modern art forms, including visual images, objects, texts, and performances, the contributors examine the complexities of viewing and the production of knowledge across temporal moments.
The fourteen essays that comprise this volume concentrate on festival iconography, the visual and written languages, including ephemeral and permanent structures, costume, dramatic performance, inscriptions and published festival books that ‘voiced’ the social, political and cultural messages incorporated in processional entries in the countries of early modern Europe. The volume also includes a transcript of the newly-discovered Register of Lionardo di Zanobi Bartholini, a Florentine merchant, which sets out in detail the expenses for each worker for the possesso (or Entry) of Pope Leo X to Rome in April 1513.
The essays in this volume consider three aspects of queenship and politics: the institutional foundations and practice of politics, the politics of religion and religious devotion, and the literary and artistic representations of queenship and power. They address the distinctive Spanish political culture that resulted in a form of queenship similar to, yet also substantially different from, that of northern Europe.
In the last thirty years of the Soviet Communist project, Viktor Koretsky’s art struggled to solve an enduring riddle: how to ensure or restore Communism’s moral health through the production of a distinctively Communist vision. In this sense Koretsky’s art demonstrates what an “avant-garde late Communist art” would have looked like if we had ever seen it mature. Most striking of all, Koretsky was pioneering the visual languages of Benetton and MTV at a time when the iconography of interracial togetherness was still only a vague rumor on Madison Avenue. Vision and Communism presents a series of interconnected essays devoted to Viktor Koretsky’s art and the social worlds that it hoped to transform. Produced collectively by its five editors, this writing also considers the visual art, film, and music included in the exhibition Vision and Communism, opening at the Smart Museum of Art in September 2011.

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