Volkswagen Fellowship Symposium – “Visualizing Revolt and Punishment”

From April 25 to April 27, 2014, researchers from several European and American universities gathered at the Mahindra Humanities Center of Harvard University to discuss visual and theatrical representations of revolt and punishment in early modern Europe.

Malte Griesse, Research Fellow at the Mahindra Humanities Center in 2013/2014, opened the conference with an introduction of the chairs and speakers. He also brought central research questions to mind:

For further information on the speakers and their individual talks, please heed the links below.

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The first panel of the conference was dedicated to punishment in Byzantium and the early days of the Muscovite Empire. In their presentations, the speakers especially tried to distinguish symbols of legitimate violence from signs of usurpation and sin:

Galina Tirnanic, Oakland University

“Visualizing Punishment in Byzantium: Disseminating Memories of Quelled Revolts Before the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”

Valerie Kivelson, University of Michigan

“Visualizing Violence in Muscovite Imperial Expansion in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries”

The second panel focused on transnational and even transcontinental visual communication. The portrayal of Russian rebels and tsars in Western media was supplemented by talks on Western perceptions of Russian corporal punishment and indigenous Peruvian visualizations of the early Spanish rule in Latin America:

Gleb Kazakov, Bielefeld University

“Portraying Russian Rebels and Tsars in Western Media”

Nancy Kollmann, Stanford University

“Truth and Legitimacy in Adam Olearius’ Punishments

Blenda B. Femenias, CUA, Washington

“Violence against the Body in the Drawings of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala”

Regicide, revolt and banditry in England and France were at the centre of the third panel:

Stefania Gargioni, Berlin/Kent

“Punishment and Regicide: Iconographical Accounts of Ravaillac’s Public Execution in early Seventeenth-century England”

Monika Barget, University of Konstanz

The agreeable contrast: British caricatures of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion”

Julius Ruff, Marquette University, Milwaukee

“Myth-Making in Eighteenth-Century France: Visual Representations of Banditry”


The fourth panel featured two talks on Turks in European theatre and the different modes of self-reassurance and self-criticism inherent in the plays and their performance:

Daniel Vitkus, San Diego

“Turkish Torture: Staging Atrocity and Fortitude in English Renaissance Drama”


Christiane Ackermann, Harvard/ Tübingen

“Revolt on stage: The role of ‘the Turk’ in pre-modern German drama”


Another panel on Central Europe zoomed in on social stratification and clashes of interpretative patterns in early modern revolts:

Malte Griesse, Harvard/Konstanz

“Image and Text in Propaganda during the Upper Austrian Peasant War 1626”

Daniel Juette, Harvard

“Defenestration: A ritual punishment and its visual representations in early modern Europe”


And the final talk presented translations of form and meaning in paintings and prints from the Dutch Republic:

David de Boer, University of Konstanz

“Depicting Death True to Life: Violence in Dutch Print and Painting”

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