A Cultural History of Color: Power and Identity in the Age of Enlightenment

Power and identity in the Enlightenment age – why colours matter

In my contribution to volume 4 of Bloomsbury’s Cultural History of Color book series, I have analysed the importance of colours in representations of power and in the construction of political identities of the Enlightenment Age. Colours shaped early modern political cultures on many levels from clothing to metaphors of faction. Mainly analysing examples from Europe and Europe’s overseas colonies, my chapter relies on newspaper reports, pamphlets, illustrated broadsides and legislative texts to study how the use of colours could strengthen an existing order or express opposition.

In line with my research on riots and revolts, I am especially interested in contested colour uses and in re-definitions of political colours after crises and changes of government.

Bloomsbury’s Cultural history of color series

A Cultural History of Color presents a history of 5000 years of color in western culture. The first systematic and comprehensive history, the work examines how color has been perceived, developed, produced and traded, and how it has been used in all aspects of performance – from the political to the religious to the artistic – and how it shapes all we see, from food and nature to interiors and architecture, to objects and art, to fashion and adornment, to the color of the naked human body, and to the way our minds work and our languages are created.

The six volumes cover: 1 – Antiquity (3,000 BCE to 500 CE); 2 – Medieval Age (500 to 1400); 3 – Renaissance (1400 to 1650); 4 – Age of Enlightenment (1650 to 1800); 5 – Age of Industry (1800 to 1920); 6 – Modern Age (1920 to the present). Volume 4 on the Enlightenment Age was edited by Carole Biggam (University of Glasgow, UK) and  Kirsten Wolf (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA).

For a complete overview and shipping options, visit the publishers’ website: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/cultural-history-of-color-9781474273732/

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