Images in the Margins: Renaissance Readers Draw the Meanings of their Texts

Images in the Margins: Renaissance Readers Draw the Meanings of their Texts

Wednesday

September 25, 2019

6:00 PM-7:00 PM

Auditorium

225 South St
Williamstown, MA 01267

Anthony Grafton presents, “Images in the Margins: Renaissance Readers Draw the Meanings of their Texts.”

Anthony Grafton considers the meaning and relevance of margin notes found in Renaissance texts. In this period, educated readers went through their texts pen in hand. They underlining passages, adding references to names and short summaries in the margins, and interpreting or responding to the text. Most marginalia were verbal. But scholars from Petrarch in the fourteenth century to John Dee in the sixteenth also made drawings of many kinds in the margins of their books. This lecture presents some of their work and argues that it often—though not always—had an interpretative purpose.

Anthony Grafton is the Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University. Grafton’s special interests lie in the cultural history of Renaissance Europe, the history of books and readers, the history of scholarship and education in the West from Antiquity to the nineteenth century, and the history of science from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Grafton likes to see the past through the eyes of influential and original writers, and has accordingly written intellectual biographies of a fifteenth-century Italian humanist, architect, and town planner, Leon Battista Alberti; a sixteenth-century Italian astrologer and medical man, Girolamo Cardano; and a sixteenth-century French classicist and historian, Joseph Scaliger. He also studies the long-term history of scholarly practices, such as forgery and the citation of sources, and has worked on many other topics in cultural and intellectual history.