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Early Modern Interdisciplinary Graduate Forum IV

January 15, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


The Early Modern Interdisciplinary Graduate Forum (EMIGF) is a monthly event hosted by the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) at the University of Toronto. EMIGF is a platform for PhD candidates, post-docs, fellows, and recent graduates to deliver papers in an informal setting. Our mandate is to provide junior and emerging scholars with the opportunity to present work in progress, and to facilitate dialogue on current topics in early modern research across the disciplines. EMIGF meetings are well attended by graduate students, faculty, and fellows from the early modern community at the University of Toronto and beyond. 

Our fourth meeting for 2018-2019 will be held on Tuesday, January 15th from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Victoria University Common Room, Burwash Hall (89 Charles Street West, rear entrance).

Myth-Appropriation: New World Novelty in the Service of Empire
James Bonar Department of History, Queen’s University

Beginning with the voyages of Columbus, the “discovery” of the New World was widely perceived during the Renaissance as confirmation of classical and medieval myths. Associating the Americas with such fabled locales as Atlantis, Ophir, and the Garden of the Hesperides, European adventurers, artists, academics, and countless others blended Old World fantasy with New World geography to describe the marvels of the Western hemisphere. Through this imaginative process of domestication, the newfound land and its inhabitants were rapidly mobilized for propagandistic purposes within numerous political, economic, and cultural discourses. By examining the motivations behind the adaptation and dissemination of three such myths, I will argue that New World literature provides not only a fanciful account of Europe’s earliest interactions with the new American reality, but also betrays its greatest aspirations and anxieties concerning its latest conquest.

Towards the Parapictorial: Presenting the Book of Prints in Early Modern Italy
Shaun Midanik Department of Art History, University of Toronto

First coined by the literary theorist Gérard Genette, the term paratext refers to everything outside of the text, a “threshold” that “is what enables a text to become a book.” Genette understands a book as primarily textual, with illustrations added at the discretion of the author of the text. I wish to counter the notion that books are fundamentally textual by pointing to books of prints, which are bound groups of pictures that emerged as a new type of book in the early modern period. I analyze what I call the “parapictorial” function of books of prints as an inversion of the paratext: everything within and around these books is “para” to the pictures. I wish to thus demonstrate how text can play a secondary role to illustrative material and writers can be subordinate to artists, inverting hierarchies regarding “proper” (i.e. textual) information or sources. Moreover, I posit that parapictorial material surrounding the pictures within books of prints, such as the frequently ignored title pages, dedications, etc., is essential to bookmaking and collecting practices. 

As a case study, I will examine the parapictorial material within Pietro Bartoli’s Colonna Traiana (1673). Of particular note is the introductory letter to the reader by the printer Giacomo de Rossi, which instructs viewers on how to look at the pictures within. Rather than viewing the Colonna Traiana as “reproductive,” I will examine how it translates or remediates the work into print as well as how it attempts to contribute to the creation of a history of art.


January 15, 2019
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies


Victoria University Common Room (Rear Entrance Burwash Hall)
89 Charles Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5S1K7 Canada
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