The Visualisation of Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Event date: June 6 - June 9, 2016

    Katrin Kogman-Appel (University of Münster)
    Yossi Chajes (University of Haifa)


    The Research Group, The Visualization of Knowledge in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods, spent the academic year 2014–15 at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS). During its residency, the group developed a plan for a book that would integrate the different strands of the members’ individual research endeavors within a larger scholarly framework. In order to treat more fully the fundamental principles underlying visual modes of conceptualization and, at the same time, properly cover the major categories of the visual production of knowledge through their most significant historical developments, the organizers solicited additional essays from other specialists working in related areas. The Research Group’s reunion conference, scheduled to take place at the IIAS June 5–9, 2016, will bring together nearly all of the volume’s 24 authors. Participants will present their work in progress prior to the final submission of their book chapters. This format will result in a volume that tightly coheres to the theme of the Research Group.

    The project explores the production of visual models as cognitive mechanisms integral to thought. In brief, the conference will address the invention and use of various devices that depend on the reciprocal interaction between mental imaging and strategies of textual and graphic mediation. Patterned text, lists, tables, diagrams, schemata, charts and maps do not merely compile and communicate information, but also have a generative power: They formalize abstract concepts, provide grids through which to process data, set in motion analytic operations that give rise to new ideas, and create interpretive frameworks for understanding the world. The workshop will discuss new, synthetic approaches to the understanding of the cognitive, heuristic, and epistemic roles of visual devices in such areas as cosmological speculation, calendrical reckoning, pedagogy, scriptural exegesis, and magic.