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At the center of this interdisciplinary study are court monsters - dwarves, hirsutes, and misshapen individuals - who, by their very presence, altered Renaissance ethics vis-à-vis anatomical difference, social virtues, and scientific knowledge. These monsters evolved from objects of curiosity, to scientific cases, to legally independent beings. Although many images of and writings about these individuals depict them as jokes of nature or indices of courtly wit, others transcend these categories, combining a vocabulary of courtly self-fashioning with close observations akin to dissections that humanize monsters, while simultaneously stressing their anatomical difference. More importantly, the works examined in this book point to the intricate cultural, religious, ethical, and scientific perceptions of monstrous individuals who were fixtures in contemporary courts. From entertainers to advisors, and from faithful companions to collectible objects, monsters at court held liminal positions used by rulers to create and shape their own personae.
Medieval Institute Publications
early modern art, monster, teratology, anatomy, portrait, dwarf, hirsute, castrato
Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | European History | Medieval Studies | Social History
Citation for Published Book
Ghadessi, Touba. Portraits of Human Monsters in the Renaissance: Dwarves, Hirsutes, and Castrati as Idealized Anatomical Anomalies. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2018.