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Transitory Hieroglyphics: Gesture in the Early Modern Pulpit

Gesturing preacher from Jean le Pautre's Chaires de Predicateurs
Monday, April 17, 2023
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Arnold Hunt (Vanderbilt)
CMRS Seminar

The early modern sermon was both an aural and a visual experience, in which the preacher's message was communicated through a combination of words and gestures. But the fleeting and ephemeral nature of gestures--which Francis Bacon, in The Advancement of Learning, described as "transitory hieroglyphics"--means that our knowledge of them is extremely limited. This seminar offers a framework for thinking about this important but elusive dimension of early modern preaching, and offers some more general reflections on the history of early modern gesture.

Participants are asked to read in advance a paper (to be distributed later) to be prepared for rich discussion.

Arnold Hunt has been a curator of early modern manuscripts at the British Library and a lecturer in early modern history at Cambridge University. He currently holds a visiting post as Research Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University. His first book, The Art of Hearing, has been described as "a brilliant and original re-examination of the importance of preaching in later Reformation England" (TLS). His second book, Protestant Bodies: The Social Life of Gesture in Reformation England, will be published by Cambridge University Press later this year. He is currently writing a social and cultural history of book collecting, Bibliomania: A History, for Princeton University Press.