Simple race games, played with dice and without choice of move, are known from antiquity. In the late 16th century, specific examples of this class of game emerged from Italy and spread rapidly into other countries of Europe. Pre-eminent was the Game of the Goose, which spawned thousands of variants over the succeeding centuries to the present day, including educational, polemical and promotional variants.1
The educational variants began as a French invention of the 17th century, the earliest of known date being a game to teach Geography, the Jeu du Monde by Pierre Duval, published in 1645. By the end of the century, games designed to teach several of the other accomplishments required of the noble cadet class had been developed: History, the Arts of War, and Heraldry being notable among them.
A remarkable example of a game within this class is the astronomical game, Le Jeu de la Sphere ou de l’Univers selon Tycho Brahe, published in 1661 by E(s)tienne Vouillemont in Paris. The present paper analyses this game in detail, showing how it combines four kinds of knowledge systems: natural philosophy, based on the Ptolemaic sphere; biblical knowledge; astrology, with planetary and zodiacal influences; and classical knowledge embodied in the names of the constellations. The game not only presents all four on an equal footing but also explores links between them, indicating some acceptance of an overall knowledge-system. Despite the title, there is no evidence of the Tychonian scheme for planetary motion, nor of any Copernican or Galilean influence.
This game is to be contrasted with medieval race games, based on numerology and symbolism, and with race games towards the end of the Early Modern period in which science is fully accepted.
In recent science-fiction literature, we can witness a proliferation of new counterfactual narratives which take the 17th century as their point of departure. Unlike steampunk narratives, however, their aim is not to criticise the socio-political effects caused by contemporary technological development. Such authors as Neal Stephenson or Ian Tregillis, among others, are interested in revisiting the model of development in Western societies, routing around the logic of progress. Moreover, they demonstrate that modernity is but an effect of manifold contingent and indeterminate encounters of humans and nonhumans and their distinct temporalities. Even the slightest modification of their ways of being could have changed Western societies and cultures. Thus, they necessitate a rather non-anthropocentric model of counterfactuality which is not tantamount to the traditional alternative histories which depart from official narratives of the past.
By drawing on contemporary multispecies ethnography, I put forward a new understanding of counter-factuality which aims to reveal multiple entangled human and nonhuman stories already embedded in the seemingly unified history of the West. In this context, the concept of “polyphonic assemblage” (Lowenhaupt-Tsing) is employed to conceptualize the contingent and open-ended encounters of human and nonhuman historical actors which cut across different discourses and practices. I analyse Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle to show the entangled stories of humans and nonhumans in 17th century sciences, hardly present in traditional historiographies. In particular, Stephenson’s depiction of quicksilver and coffeehouse as nonhuman historical actors is scrutinized to show their vital role in the production of knowledge at the dawn of modernity.
: Warm-Soft Village Press, 1973
Miyao, Yoshio 宮尾與男, ed. Edo enshō kobanashi shūsei 江戸艶笑小話集成 [Collection of erotic humorous tales]. Tōkyō: Sairyūsha, 2006
Mostow, Joshua S. “The Gender of Wakashu and the Grammar of Desire in Late 17thCentury Edo.” In Gender and Power in the Japanese Visual Field , eds. Joshua S. Mostow, Norman Bryson, and Maribeth Graybill. Honolulu HI: University of Hawaii Press, 2003: 49-70
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Screen 16 (Autumn 1975): 6-18
Mutō, Sadao 武藤貞夫. “Hanashibon” 噺本
, See e.g. the painting from 1665 by the Dutch painter Jan Steen, The Feast of Saint Nicholas (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). Sinterklaas has recently turned into an annual slugfest of racial politics. To explain what it is all about, I quote from The Economist of December 6, 2014 :
The problem is the figure of Zwarte Piet , an impish clown with a black face who accompanies the bearded St Nicholas ( Sinterklaas ) on his rounds, distributing presents and biscuits. The character is derived from 17th-century paintings of Moorish slaves, and many Dutch with African
. Vilnius: Vilniaus dailės akademijos leidykla, 1998. 282-286.
Kamuntavičienė, Vaida, “Kauno dekanato bažnyčių raida XV-XVI a..” Lituanistica, 68. 4 (2006): 1-22.
Klasztory bernardyńskie w Polsce w jej granicach historycznych: dzieło zbiorowe, ed. Hieronim Eug. Wyczawski. Kalwaria Zebrzydowska: Wydawn. Bernardynow “Calvarianum”, 1985.
Klein, Peter, and Tomasz Wazny, “Dendrochronological analyses of paintings of Gdansk painters of the 15th to the 17thcentury.” Dendrochronologia 9 (1991): 181-191.
followed western models of behavior (this process started even before Peter the Great, in the middle of the 17thcentury). By the beginning of the 19 th century, some representatives of the Russian aristocracy spoke better French than Russian. At the same time during the Napoleonic wars, a deeper understanding of the spirit of freedom inherent in the West brought about some transformation of what used to be a purely outward imitation. Thenceforth, the Russian intelligentsia did not limit itself to blindly imitating external behavior of the western elites – instead, it