Early Modern Visual Culture: Representation, Race, and Empire in Renaissance England. (Reviews).
Peter Erickson and Clark Hulse, eds., Early Modern Visual Culture: Representation, Race, and Empire in Renaissance England.
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press The University of Pennsylvania Press (or Penn Press) was originally incorporated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on 26 March 1890, and the imprint of the University of Pennsylvania Press first appeared on publications in the closing decade of the nineteenth , 2000, viii + 133 illus. + 406 pp. $62.50 (cl), $27.50 (pbk). ISBN ISBN
International Standard Book Number
ISBN International Standard Book Number
ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m : 0-8122-3559-2 (cl), ISBN: 0-8122-1734-9 (pbk).
Unlike the festschrift fest·schrift
n. pl. fest·schrif·ten or fest·schrifts
A volume of learned articles or essays by colleagues and admirers, serving as a tribute or memorial especially to a scholar. , which in the present publishing market is nearly dead, the edited volume of essays addressing a single topic continues to prove itself a durable genre. In large part this resilience comes from its adaptability to emerging areas of inquiry and scholars with converging interests. The present collection is a case in point. The editors have enlisted an impressive set of contributors, from distinguished seniors to precocious younger scholars; nearly all of the essays are substantial; a good deal of learning and intelligence is evident; and, although less than claimed, there is a fair amount of thematic continuity.
The editors maintain that W. J. T. Mitchell's definition of "visual culture" needs to be "extended and reversed: if visual culture is the study of the social construction of visual experience, then equally it is the study of the visual construction of social experience" (1). Their introduction begins with an incisive review of the scholarship through which the field of visual culture has developed before asserting the contributions of their volume. One might demur To dispute a legal Pleading or a statement of the facts being alleged through the use of a demurrer. from the facile assumption that "As a field descriptor (1) A word or phrase that identifies a document in an indexed information retrieval system.
(2) A category name used to identify data.
(operating system) descriptor , 'early modern' replaces the progressive implications of 'Renaissance'" (8). What could be more simply progressive than the sequence of early modern-modern-post modern? Also, the skepticism -- voiced by Martin Jay, Mitchell, and Barbara Stafford -- about the applicability of discourse from literary and cultural studies to visual arts visual arts npl → artes fpl plásticas
visual arts npl → arts mpl plastiques
visual arts npl → is dismissed rather quickly.
The ten essays themselves contextualize con·tex·tu·al·ize
tr.v. con·tex·tu·al·ized, con·tex·tu·al·iz·ing, con·tex·tu·al·iz·es
To place (a word or idea, for example) in a particular context. such diverse visual objects as ceremonial arches, human figures on maps, and the representation of women in relation to textiles. Given the editors' insistence on the need to examine "subcanonical materials," crafts and utilitarian arts (2, 11), a surprising amount of attention is devoted to canonical art and artists -- Holbein, Hilliard, Oliver, Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, even Raphael. A number of essays are linked by a concern with gender, sexuality, race, empire, and colonialism. There is a heartening heart·en
tr.v. heart·ened, heart·en·ing, heart·ens
To give strength, courage, or hope to; encourage. See Synonyms at encourage.
Adj. 1. amount of agreement among the contributors that these terms are relative, not fixed, and need to be understood historically.
Space limits preclude discussing every essay, but a few deserve particular mention. Kim F. Hall presents a thoughtful meditation on "the Presence of Black Women," beginning with Danese Cattaneo's sculpture, Black Venus Black Venus (aka "Saints and Strangers") is an anthology of short fiction by Angela Carter. It was first published in the United Kingdom in 1985 by Chatto & Windus Ltd. and contains a collection of eight stories, the majority of which are concerned with re-imagining the lives of , and concluding with Durer's drawing, Katherina. Ernest B. Gilman, who gets the prize for best title ("Madagascar on My Mind"), examines Van Dyck's "Madgascar:" Portrait of the Earl of Arundel
The title Earl of Arundel is the oldest extant Earldom and perhaps the oldest extant title in the Peerage of England. , exfoliating "the discourse of colonialism, as it interweaves such diverse strands as heraldry heraldry, system in which inherited symbols, or devices, called charges are displayed on a shield, or escutcheon, for the purpose of identifying individuals or families. , antiquities, classical scholarship, and painting itself' to argue that it is "both subtler and more diverse" than a narrow political or economic analysis might suggest (310). Clark Hulse's own contribution, "Reading Painting: Holbein, Cromwell, Wyatt," is a model essay. It opens by tackling the large question of how one "reads" a portrait and proceeds to a test case, offering a subtle analysis of Holbein's portrait of Thomas Cromwell via his relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt. The essay is theoretically sophis ticated, but the writing is lucid, not jargon-laden, and takes no more space than it needs. One could wish the editors had held all contributors to this standard.
In short, the obvious work that has gone into this book pays off; the essays are thoughtful, well-researched, current in their interests, and there is something to be learned from each of them. In one respect, however, the editors have miscalculated. They present the volume as "a provocation" both to "English Renaissance art history" and "Renaissance art history generally" (11). By "provocation" they mean a challenge to broaden subject matter, methodologies, and geographical range. But, since the authors here consist of nine literature professors and a single art historian (Karen C. C. Dalton on the "Drake Jewel"), I suspect that any art historian who picks up the book will be provoked in another sense - to annoyance at the apparent condescension con·de·scen·sion
1. The act of condescending or an instance of it.
2. Patronizingly superior behavior or attitude.
[Late Latin cond . A dialogue would have been a better tactic. Finally, it is a pity that Penn made the book such a drab visual object; a considerable number of the photographs are too muddy to confirm their descriptions.