Cogut Institute for the Humanities
Center for the Study of the Early Modern World

2020 Research and Teaching Report: Holly Shaffer

Holly Shaffer taught two courses cross-listed by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World. The first, “Food and Art in the Early Modern World” looked at the relation between the taste for food and for art in the early modern world. From the movement of spices, scents, chocolate, and sugar to the vessels that were invented to contain them, the class investigated the trade and circulation of foods and objects, before turning to cities that flourished in the wake of such consumption across the globe and their dedication to pleasure and devotion. Finally, participants considered the significance of memory and migration through cookbooks, metaphors, and dinner parties.

Secondly, the Cogut Institute Collaborative Humanities seminar “Tracing Translations: Artistic Migrations and Reinventions in the Early Modern World” considered what happens when arts and ideas move. It examined processes of artistic and literary translation, from the repetition and reuse of narratives to the uncanny meeting of pictorial conventions to the tweaks, adjustments, and inventions that propelled arts across the early modern world. The seminar addressed theories of translation and imitation, and focused on problems of style, language, impostors, dictionaries, media, and ethnography, especially in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The class also provided training in artistic practices of replication and a collaborative project with special collections.