William Sherman

Word and Image in the Renaissance Notebook

William Sherman, University of York

Discussant: Alexander Marr, University of Cambridge

Since the publication of Used Books, I have been thinking more about marginalia as a visual (rather than, or as well as) a verbal phenomenon; and I have been collecting examples of books containing readers’ marks that are graphic in one way or another, from doodles to fully fledged illustrations. Many Renaissance books–and, for that matter note-books–contain this kind of visual evidence, and historians of reading and writing have been surprisingly slow to identify and assess it. It is, once again, partly a matter of methodology and partly a matter of terminology. But what we may be missing is the extent to which ways of reading were bound up with ways of seeing in Renaissance Europe–even beyond the disciplines explicitly devoted to the work of the eye.

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