Sunday, 10-11:30am

300 Wheeler

Moderator: Stephanie Bahr


Elizabeth Merrill (University of Virginia)

Francesco di Giorgio and the Art of the Treatise

A painter, sculptor, architect and theoretician, Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439 – 1502) was the embodiment of the Renaissance ideal “uomo universale.” Written in Italian, Francesco’s Trattato di Architettura was a compilation of his multifaceted interests. An illustrated guide to architectural theory and practice, the Trattato was unprecedented in the Renaissance; previous treatises on architecture were either entirely un-illustrated, or were conceived as visual pattern books, with occasional textual annotations.

The range of topics compiled in the Trattato is visually unified in Francesco’s extensive use of images. Filling the margins and at times overwhelming the text, the drawings of the Trattato are an integral component of his treatise. Referencing the images directly in the text, Francesco allowed the illustrations to explain that which he could not express in words. “And because it would take me a long time to write all of this, I will demonstrate with drawings.”

Yet, as an aspirant humanist, writing for the dukes of Urbino and Naples, Francesco was keenly aware of cultural credibility of verbal expression. My paper examines the equilibrium between text and image Francesco achieved in the Trattato. Pairing text with images was not merely a question of formatting; rather, the process solicited numerous questions concerning the role of images in theoretical writing and the relationship between visual and verbal explanations. The great success of the Trattato, which was widely copied in manuscript form, was a testament to Francesco’s talent to be at once both artist and scholar, and in doing so, to redefine the form of the architectural treatise.

Elizabeth Merrill is pursuing her PhD in Italian Renaissance art and architecture under the direction of Cammy Borthers. Her dissertation, “Francesco di Giorgio as Itinerant Architect,” examines the role of architect in the 15th century and the importance of travel in the dissemination of architecture in the Italian Renaissance. She received her B.A. in art history from Columbia University in 2007 and her M.A. from University of Virginia in 2010.


Jonathon Iverson (University of Toronto)

“As Ye May”: Print Authority through Unwritten Early Modern Cookery Instructions

To Make Short Paest for Tarte Take fyne floure and a curtesy of fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron, and the yolkes of two egges and make it thynne and as tender as ye maye.

Leaving the saffron aside, following these directions would yield something very similar to what is now called short crust pastry. However, juxtaposed against a current recipe, these instructions from an anonymous 1545 printed text called A Proper Newe Booke of Cookery, leave much out: the cooking details familiar to a modern reader are unarticulated. The sixteenth century work lacks the precise directions on which more recently published cookbooks almost invariably rely. This divergence in style is explained by scholars of both book and food history, in large part, as a function of the authors’ target readership. The vast majority of current cookbooks claim that if their precise instructions are followed, anyone can reproduce some culinary expertise. Early modern texts on cookery were printed for those who had at least a moderate understanding of the kitchen: ladies of the house and culinary professionals. I propose to show how this transition in cookery texts is demonstrative of the progression of print culture as a whole. Following Adrian Johns’ assertion that print had to build itself into an authoritative medium, I see unarticulated elements of expertise in a pastry recipe, which attuned those printed instructions to those with culinary authority, as part of the early development of print legitimacy.

Jonathon Iverson is a MA student in English and the collaborative Book History and Print Culture Program at the University of Toronto, where he moved after completing a BA (Honours) at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Having worked previously in politics and the gourmet food industry, his research centres, within an Early Modern context, on continued interests in those areas. Reflecting that focus, his undergraduate thesis was entitled “Cookery out of Cabinets: Conceptual Colonialism Printed in Seventeenth Century English Culinary Books.”


Hannah Marcus (Stanford University)

Rehabilitating Fuchs: Constructive Censorship in Sixteenth-Century Italy

My paper explores the process of expurgating banned medical texts so that revised, legitimate versions could circulate in Counter-Reformation Italy. I suggest that for a period in the sixteenth century Catholic censorship in Italy was understood as a constructive process that relied on collaboration between Church authorities and local readers. Focusing primarily on the infrastructure of this system of expurgatory censorship, I argue that censorship in the late sixteenth century must be understood as a negotiated enterprise in addition to one of intellectual and social control. In the 1590’s this collaboration was made official and the Congregation of the Index delegated the expurgation of books to groups of scholars and ecclesiastics at universities across Italy.  This paper uses Padua’s censorship of medical texts as a case study and point of entry for examining the Curia’s outsourcing of expurgatory censorship to local ecclesiastic and lay authorities.

These efforts to expurgate and revise texts were rarely successful.  Nevertheless, the process of expurgatory censorship should be seen as constructive because it was undertaken not with the aim of destroying a text, but rather of revising it to meet the needs of a Catholic world. Censorship is by nature an exercise of control. However, it also fundamentally serves a double purpose; by defining the prohibited, censorship also delineates the permissible. The outsourcing of expurgatory censorship should be seen equally as an opportunity to integrate and permit knowledge as to prohibit it.

Hannah Marcus is a graduate student studying History and the History of Science at Stanford University.  She is interested in the relationship between intellectual and religious culture in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.