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Casting the Real: Reproduction, Translation and Interpretation in Petrarch’s Time

Thursday 4 May 2017, 5.30PM to Friday 5th May

In keeping with Dominic Olariu’s La genèse de la représentation ressemblante de l’homme. Reconsidérations du portrait à partir du XIIIe siècle (Bern 2014), this international workshop looks at the the ways fourteenth-century poets, intellectuals, doctors, and artists engaged with issues of translation, casting, embalming, and quantification. It explores the contaminations between ideas of measuring, judging, and representation while considering the similarities between concepts of truth, virtue, and likeness. The goal is to re-examine drawing as a practice that served to understand the real and construct a sense of truth. The workshop also explores medieval doctors' engagement with embalming, sculpting, and casting techniques. Finally, it intends to break away with the idea of rhetoric as an arid, formalistic ritual, but rather a practice that often drew from practical experiences and changed their significance in return. This is why this workshop is framed around the figure of Petrarch, composer of funerary inscriptions, poet of inner realities, master of the art of memory, and avid commentator of scientific texts.



May 4

17:30 Dominic Olariu (Marburg)
“In libro hoc scripsi et per figuram demonstravi.” Plant illustrations for identification at the end of the Middle Ages

May 5

9:45 Introduction

10:00 Joël Chandelier (Paris 8)
Complexio, Anatomia and the Judgement of the Human Body in 14th-century Italian Medical Scholasticism

10:40 Luca Palozzi (Edinburgh)
Devising the World: Drawing and Other Cognitive Tools around Petrarch’s Time

11:20 Coffee Break

11:40 Laura Jacobus (Birkbeck)
Portraiture at the Carrara Courts: Realism, Representation and Replication

12:20 Philippe Charlier (UVSQ)
Embalming at the Time of Petrarch: How? Why?

13:00 Lunch Break

14:30 Emanuele Lugli (York)
The Life-Size as a Legal Concept

15:10 Giulia Perucchi (Villa I Tatti)
Petrarch and the Sciences

15:50 Coffee Break

16:15 Roundtable Discussion

18:00 Conclusions‌

The conference is free and open to everyone. The program is available for download here: Casting the real_program (PDF , 1,066kb)
For information and to secure a place, please write to

Location: Centre for Medieval Studies, King's Manor K/159