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We continue our residency program for visiting scholars with Claudia Swan, who will join us this week for a virtual residency. She will visit a course and present at the Seminar in Renaissance and Early Modern Material Culture.

Please note that the originally scheduled coffee hour and Brown Bag Lunch have been canceled. 

Claudia Swan is the inaugural Mark Steinberg Weil Professor of Art History & Archaeology at Washington University. Her principal scholarly commitment is to northern European art, with a focus on the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. Swan’s work on early modern art and visual culture contributes to intersections of art history, history of science, material culture studies, and the history of global trade and politics. Publications within the past decade include articles on seventeenth-century taste, Dutch art, trade, and diplomacy in the global sphere; a co-edited volume Image, Imagination, and Cognition. Medieval and Early Modern Theory and Practice; and the edited volume Tributes to David Freedberg. Image and Insight. Her monograph Rarities of These Lands. Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Dutch Republic (Princeton University Press, 2021) was published this spring, followed by the co-authored volume Conchophilia. Shells, Art, and Curiosity in Early Modern Europe (Princeton University Press, 2021).


The Seminar in Renaissance and Early Modern Material Culture
“The Dutch Colonial Imaginary”

Tuesday, February 15, 6–7:30 pm
Via Zoom and screened in the Lecture Hall

Over the course of the first half of the seventeenth century, the northern Netherlands secured independence from the Spanish crown and the nascent Dutch republic established its might in global trade. Central to the political and cultural identity of the Dutch Republic were curious foreign goods the Dutch called “rarities.” Swan’s recent book on early modern Dutch investment in the exotic—Rarities of these Lands. Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Dutch Republic (Princeton, 2021) explores how rarities were obtained, exchanged, stolen, valued, and collected, tracing their global trajectories and considering their role within the politics of the new state. This lecture builds on that account through an examination of power relations less explicitly operative within Dutch culture of the time: slavery, Swan argues, was an animating force of the Dutch colonial imaginary. The talk is structured in four parts, which present depictions of Blackness; observations on exotic shells and labor; a brief history of Dutch interest in ebony; and, to conclude, an example of an image—a map—that is as much the product of the Dutch colonial imaginary as it is a record of how conceptions of the imagination figured into the visualization of racialized identity.

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Class Visit

Wednesday, February 16, 1:30 pm–4 pm
Via Zoom

Claudia Swan will join “Global Renaissance” with Professors Deborah Krohn and Andrew Morrall.


Upcoming 2021-22 Residencies

Monday, February 28 to Friday, March 4, 2022: Charlotte Vignon

Monday, March 14 to Friday, March 18, 2022: Paul Basu

Monday, March 21 to Friday, March 25, 2022: Lothar von Falkenhausen

Monday, March 28 to Friday, April 1, 2022: Mónica Domínguez Torres

Monday, April 4 to Friday, April 8, 2022: Alison Clarke

Monday, April 11 to Friday, April 15, 2022: Bénédicte Savoy

Monday, April 18 to Friday, April 22, 2022: Carlo Ginzburg