The Eye and Refractive Geography in Pericles

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The paper highlights the cultural constructedness of vision in the early modern period by drawing on heteroglossic representations of the eye in early English texts, ranging from anatomy and physiology treatises to philosophy, poetry, emblems, and geometrical perspective in astronomy and land surveying. The argument is based on the association of word and image in early modern representations of space, mirrored in Ortelius’s notion of geography as the eye of history, which shows the importance of the visual element in the system of acquisition and transmission of knowledge in the Renaissance. In the particular case of Pericles, the play unfolds over a vast international geography and creates powerful visual effects. The imaginative spatial conventions of the play can be assimilated to the system of geometrical projection on which maps depended. Locations are used according to a geometric triangulation system to refract the imaginative and spatial vision. As in emblems, the locations unfolding in the play give the action meaning in the process of involved spectatorship. Moreover, in the theatre, the lone monocular beholder of mathematical linear perspective is multiplied into a choric array of spectators.

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