Invented Bodies

An exhibition that opened this week at Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center has a component of interest to antique map enthusiasts. Invented Bodies: Shapely Constructs of the Early Modern runs until June 25.

This exhibition explores the many ways that Europeans in the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries viewed the world, society, and themselves through “invented bodies” — vividly imagined forms that range from the perceptibly human to the decidedly fantastical. The exhibit engages four interrelated themes. Shaping the World looks at Early Modern maps that use anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, or floramorphic renderings to make sense of new discoveries beyond Europe. Figures of Architecture explores the anthropomorphic theories and images that come to particular prominence in Early Modern Italian and English architecture. (Re)Discovered Bodies focuses on the ways that Early Modern Europeans look at the people and places of the “New World” through the lens of Antiquity, deploying familiar classicizing forms as a means of understanding these newly discovered cultures and their origins, histories, and traditions. Finally, States and Selves examines the ways in which all these ideas and phenomena are brought to bear in the construction of the identity of the individual and the state; it reveals a merging of civic, personal, and cultural imagery that is both deeply specific and yet resonant throughout Early Modern Europe.

More from the Yale Daily News. Note that while the exhibition draws from Yale libraries, only facsimiles are on display. At post-Smiley Yale, originals are kept off-display, I guess.