Wesleyan University

William Sherman Professor of Renaissance/Early Modern Studies


What is the audience for readers' notes in books and how did they involve seeing and performing alongside writing and thinking? Recent scholarship in the lively field of marginalia has treated readers' marks as a largely private phenomenon and almost exclusively as a verbal practice. But in doing so we have lost sight of sight itself, and Sherman is now recovering the ways in which readers responded with images as well as words (produced for both themselves and others). Between Medieval illumination and modern illustration, there are many traces of reading as a visual and theatrical mode, signs that we have been slow to see and study and for which we are poorly served by both methodology and terminology. This illustrated lecture will consider the range of images produced by readers between 1450 and 1800, and will suggest that reading was closely bound up with seeing - and even drawing - across the Medieval/Renaissance divide.

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