The ordering of things: Visual syntax in the poetry of Eleni Vakalo

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Erasmus' doodles, and those of his circle of acquaintances, serve as evocative relics of their textual sociability, registering their peculiar habits of visualization. As remnants of active textual engagement, doodles bring into higher relief the reciprocity of linguistic production and visual conception, the correspondence of scribal techniques and graphic illustration, and the psychically charged vacillation between readership and authorship. The drawings, illustrations, and paintings considered in this essay lie at the intersection of humanist visual and literary culture in the years surrounding the publication of The Praise of Folly and suggest the powerful identification these erudite men felt toward the figure of Folly, as an exemplar of sorts. Read alongside formal portraits Erasmus commissioned to construct an extra-textual public face, the scholar's travestied autographs shadowed and prefigured his self-promotional machinations. As a patron and promoter of portraiture, Erasmus valued art's ability to rewrite the autonomous body as a social intertext, a visual corollary of the emulative circuitry of humanist rhetorical practices. However, as the humorlessness of the Luther-bloc radicalized reformatory rhetoric, iconoclastic and censorial fury - the dark side of doodling - turned against the image of Erasmus in word and image, undercutting hopes for moderate church reform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-408
Number of pages24
JournalWord and Image
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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