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Scenes of Reading in the Early Modern Iberian World

Posted By Eli Cohen, Wednesday, May 18, 2016
This panel will explore the breadth and significance of the act of reading in the early modern Iberian world through examinations of particular scenes of reading enacted by or within texts, theater and the visual arts.  The early modern period was marked by enormous increases in the production and reproduction of texts and images, in the demand for such materials, and in the circulation of texts and images through imperial expansion.  Explicit representations of reading as an activity abound in early modern Spanish and Colonial literature, while records of commercial transactions and library holdings illustrate the burgeoning book trade and the extent of book collecting, practices which help reveal who was reading what in the period.  Papers will address these and related issues by responding to questions including (but not limited to) the following: How was the act of reading imagined?  What ideological dimensions do representations of reading reveal?  In what contexts (private vs. public, popular vs. courtly) was reading depicted?  What role do acts of reading play in shaping early modern plots?  How do the different arts read one another?  How was the act of reading shaped by transatlantic perspectives?  We welcome proposals on representations of reading as a concrete practice; on the moral, political, economic, theological or epistemological significance of reading; and on the aesthetic function of scenes of reading in literary and visual art.

Please send a 1-page CV and an abstract of no more than 150 words to Jorge Téllez ( and Eli Cohen ( by May 30.  See the guidelines for CVs on the RSA’s annual meeting page.

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