Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture

Paperback | February 15, 2009

byStuart Clark

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Vanities of the Eye investigates the cultural history of the senses in early modern Europe, a time in which the nature and reliability of human vision was the focus of much debate. In medicine, art theory, science, religion, and philosophy, sight came to be characterised as uncertain orparadoxical - mental images no longer resembled the external world. Was seeing really believing? Stuart Clark explores the controversial debates of the time - from the fantasies and hallucinations of melancholia, to the illusions of magic, art, demonic deceptions, and witchcraft. The truth and function of religious images and the authenticity of miracles and visions were also questioned withnew vigour, affecting such contemporary works as Macbeth - a play deeply concerned with the dangers of visual illusion. Clark also contends that there was a close connection between these debates and the ways in which philosophers such as Descartes and Hobbes developed new theories on therelationship between the real and virtual. Original, highly accessible, and a major contribution to our understanding of European culture, Vanities of the Eye will be of great interest to a wide range of historians and anyone interested in the true nature of seeing.

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Vanities of the Eye investigates the cultural history of the senses in early modern Europe, a time in which the nature and reliability of human vision was the focus of much debate. In medicine, art theory, science, religion, and philosophy, sight came to be characterised as uncertain orparadoxical - mental images no longer resembled th...

Stuart Clark is a Professor of History at University of Wales Swansea.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:420 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.01 inPublished:February 15, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199541604

ISBN - 13:9780199541607

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Species: Vision and values2. Fantasies: Seeing without what was within3. Prestiges: Illusions in magic and art4. Glamours: Demons and virtual worlds5. Images: The reformation of the eyes6. Apparitions: The discernment of spirits7. Sights: King Saul and King Macbeth8. Seemings: Philosophical scepticism9. Dreams: The epistemology of sleep10. Signs: Vision and the new philosophyBibliography

Editorial Reviews

`'Vanities of the Eye is dense with examples of the interpenetration of the weird, the wondrous and the mundane, drawn from a deep well of scholarship... A thoroughly satisfying read... 9 out of 10' 'Fortean Times