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Seminar - Dreams, wiches and Chimeras: Pleasures and dangers of the Renaissance imagination

On Thursday, 10 March 2011 at 11.00, Claudia Swan and Paul Bakker, both fellows 2010/11, will hold a  seminar in NIAS’s Lecture Room about the relation between text-based philosophical investigations and images in the period between 1500-1650. 

Interest in the ability of the human imagination to produce the sorts of hybrid effects we refer to as witches or dreams, for example, was widely shared among European artists, poets, medico-philosophers, theologians, and demonologists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who were intrigued and unsettled by the capacity of the imagination to recombine visual experiences into entirely new entities.

Like dreams, Renaissance pictures of chimeras and witches were simultaneously highly naturalistic and ultimately fictional. Artistic theory and practice was informed by and intersected with contemporary philosophical precepts about the workings of the imagination.

Bringing their respective expertise to bear on questions about the limits, powers, and dangers of the imagination ca. 1500-1650, Professors Bakker and Swan will aim to clarify points of contact between text-based philosophical investigations, principally Aristotelian, and images, including works of art by Martin Schongauer, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Hieronymus Bosch.

The lecture is followed by an open discussion.