Visual Marginalia! – a review by the Archaeology of Reading project

Jaap Geraerts, from the Archaeology of Reading project, has written this review of the Visual Marginalia workshop held on 1 May (workshop programme and storify available here).

The review is entitled Visual Marginalia! and has been published in the project’s blog: the Bookwheel Blog.


Early Modern Visual Marginalia – CRASSH, University of Cambridge


  • Dr Alexander Marr
  • Dr Kate Isard


  • Professor William Sherman (V&A)
  • Dr Julian Luxford (St Andrews)
  • Dr Alexander Marr (Cambridge)
  • Dr Kate Isard (Visiting Scholar, Cambridge)
  • Dr Richard Oosterhoff (Cambridge)
  • Dr Francesco Benelli (Columbia)

A colloquium on early modern visual marginalia organised by Department of History of Art, Trinity Hall, University Library, University of Cambridge.

1 May 2015, 09:30 – 13:00

Graham Storey Room, Trinity Hall Sponsored by Department of History of Art, University Library, Centre for Material Texts.

Programme here.

Storify here.

The Places of Early Modern Criticism – CRASSH, University of Cambridge


Gavin Alexander (English, University of Cambridge)
Emma Gilby (French, University of Cambridge)
Alexander Marr (History of Art, University of Cambridge)

Programme here.


What is criticism?  There is a telling irony in the fact that a word concerned with the making of clear separations and distinctions (< Greek krinein) should be used of early modern practices so various and so very often blurred in their disciplinary affiliation, method, aim, and indeed location.  Thinking about literature and the visual arts is found in many places – in treatises on the arts of poetry or painting; in defences, apologies, praises, and paragoni; in critical prefaces, dedicatory epistles, commendatory verses, letters, and essays; in commentaries, editions, reading notes, and commonplace books; within or on the thresholds of works of poetry and painting (and in the on-stage audience of the play-within-a-play).  It is situated between different disciplines and methods – borrowing structure, terminology, and taxonomy from rhetoric and logic, for example, or using the analogy of one art to think about another, as when Renaissance literary theorists build on a long tradition (it is there in Aristotle, and in Homer) of thinking about the visual arts in order to think about poetry, fiction, and mimēsis.  Critical ideas and methods come into England from other places, most notably Italy, France, and the Low Countries, and take root in particular locations – the court, the Inns of Court, the theatre, the great house, the university hall, school, and library.  And commonplaces of classical poetics and rhetoric – decorum, speaking pictures, nature and art, necessity and probability – serve both to connect and to measure the space between different critical discourses.  Tracing the history of the development of early modern thinking about literature and the visual arts therefore requires that one think about various kinds of place – both material and textual – and the practices particular to those places; it also requires that those different places be brought into dialogue with each other.  This is work that has yet to be done, and its lack accounts for the ongoing reluctance of many critics, literary historians, and art historians to engage fully with early modern thinking about the very materials they study.  This conference will bring together scholars working in departments of English, modern languages, classics, and art history to look at the many different places of early modern criticism.  It aims to initiate a dialogue involving scholars who are interested in the scope of criticism, and in looking at what happens on its margins; and who are keen to interrogate their own critical practices and disciplinary methods by investigating their history.

Twitter Hashtag: #critplaces

Storify: here

23 March 2015 – 24 March 2015

CRASSH (SG1&2), Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, CB3 9DT – SG1&2

Horst Bredekamp in Cambridge

Today Professor Horst Bredekamp will be giving this year’s DH Green lecture:

“Rupture and Continuation: Aachen and Leon as reflectors of Antiquity”.

Before this event, the GBR team have had an informal chat with him on various aspects of the project – including a discussion on the idea of the artist-genius as criminal, based on a text by Bredekamp.

Information on the lecture: Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Trinity College, 5 pm. More details here.

Information on Bredekamp’s work here.

Weekly team meeting: session with Neil Kenny

Neil Kenny is Professor of French at the University of Oxford. His research mostly focuses on early modern French literature and thought, especially from about 1530 to 1650.

Of particular interest for the project is his well-known book on the history of curiosity:

Curiosity in Early Modern Europe: Word Histories (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, Wolfenbütteler Forschungen, 1998).

We are specially interested in the methodological approach used in this book: how should one write the “word history” of a certain early modern concept – in our case, “ingenuity”?

More information about Neil Kenny’s work here.

Anthony Grafton at the Cambridge Bibliographical Society

Last Wednesday (28 January) Anthony Grafton (Princeton University) and William Sherman (University of York) gave a joint paper at the Cambridge Bibliographical Society Seminar: “In the margins of Josephus: a tale of two readers”. More about this event here.

Later this week, we were fortunate to hold an informal meeting with Anthony Grafton – a great opportunity to discuss many aspects of the project!

Meeting with Debora Shuger

This morning we were very lucky to have Debora Shuger with us, talking about her work on Melanchthon and his notion of ‘genius’.

Debora Shuger (UCLA) is currently a Visiting Fellow at CRASSH, invited by the Crossroads project.

She will be one of the plenary speakers at the forthcoming conference Crossroads of Knowledge: Literature and Theology in Early Modern England (14 February, 2015). More details about this event here.

Workshop with Jonathan Hope

Organised by our colleagues at the Crossroads Project (Crossroads of Knowledge in Early Modern England: the Place of Literature), this workshop – lead by Jonathan Hope- has offered us an insight into current Digital Humanities projects that focus on words and languages, e.g. the Visualising English Print project.

Jonathan Hope is Professor of Literary Linguistics and member of Digital Humanities Research Group at the University of Strathclyde. You can read more about his work here.