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BIC Excellence Award

Portraits of Human Monsters in the Renaissance
Dwarves, Hirsutes, and Castrati as Idealized Anatomical Anomalies

By Touba Ghadessi

Portraits of Human Monsters in the Renaissance
Hardback, 220 pages £78.00
Published: 2018
ISBN: 9781580442756
Format: 240mm x 169mm
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Subjects: Cultural and Social Studies, Medieval Institute Publications, Renaissance Studies
Series: Monsters, Prodigies, and Demons: Medieval and Early Modern Constructions of Alterity

At the center of this interdisciplinary study are court monsters--dwarves, hirsutes, and misshapen individuals--who, by their very presence, altered Renaissance ethics vis-a-vis anatomical difference, social virtues, and scientific knowledge. The study traces how these monsters evolved from objects of curiosity, to scientific cases, to legally independent beings. The works examined here point to the intricate cultural, religious, ethical, and scientific perceptions of monstrous individuals who were fixtures in contemporary courts.

Introduction Difference as an Inquiry Renaissance Portrait and Intellectual Frame Perfected Miniatures - Dwarves at Court A Civilized Savage - The Hirsute's Conquest Audible Absence - The Castrato's Voice Epilogue Bibliography

"This lively and engaging study not only reveals and reconceptualizes portraits of human 'monsters,' but also, in so doing, rewrites the history of Renaissance portraiture. Ghadessi uses images of known, famous 'human monsters' - a dwarf, a hirsute woman, and a castrato - to highlight normative portraiture constructs, but also to reinvest their subjects with vibrant, vital humanity." Asa Mittman, California State University, Chico

Touba Ghadessi is Associate Professor of Art History at Wheaton College.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 220 pages
 240mm x 169mm

BIC Code:
  HIS037020, HIS054000
 Medieval Institute Publications


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