Early Modern Featherwork Under the Microscope: Reconsidering Period Eyes and Period Hands

Dr Stefan Hanß presents at the next session of the Interdisciplinary Renaissance & Early Modern Seminar.

Please note the seminar will be held on Zoom, and a link will be circulated to registered attendees on the day of the event. Please register for a place.

Dr Stefan Hanß (University of Manchester) – Abstract:

What kind of stories may historians uncover when studying early modern featherwork with the microscope and imaging technology?

This paper first discusses how microscopy helps historians to examine what it meant to see New World featherwork in Renaissance Europe, and to describe this visual experience with a grammar of ingenuity. The paper then continues with a discussion of what imaging technologies reveal about the making of a seventeenth-century feather fan. Introducing such approaches to material culture studies, I argue, helps writing a fuller history of material encounters and material creativity in the early modern period.