The body as a Mirror of the Soul: Physiognomy from Antiquity to the Renaissance

This workshop will concentrate on physiognomical thought and texts – i.e. the discipline that assesses a person’s character or personality from his or her outer appearance – in a diachronic perspective. It will focus on texts from Antiquity up to the seventeenth century, which were written in different languages (Greek, Arabic, Latin, and the vernacular). Special attention will be paid to the pseudo-Aristotelian Physiognomonica and its reception, which played a central role in this tradition, especially in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The key questions at stake are firstly which status the discipline of physiognomy – thematically at the crossroads of natural philosophy, medicine and psychology – enjoyed over the centuries, and secondly how the pseudo-Aristotelian text, which enjoyed an authoritative status by its attribution to Aristotle, was approached and connected with other physiognomic treatises by scholars from different time periods and from different disciplines.

This workshop explicitly aims at sketching a larger image of physiognomy as a discipline. This will be done on the one hand by adopting a diachronic perspective: we will focus not only on the medieval tradition in its own value but also consider this tradition as an essential intermediate step between the ancient and renaissance physiognomical tradition. On the other hand, the texts under discussion will be studied not only from a doctrinal but also from a historical and a text-critical perspective. This diachronic and multidisciplinary approach will allow us to detect and to analyze shifts in content, aim, and method that have occurred in the long history of physiognomy and to study the role played by the Aristotelian tradition in this process.


Programme :

Wednesday 9 november 2016

09.15 Registration
09.30 PIETER DE LEEMANS (Leuven), Introduction

09.40 Session 1

09.40-10.20: MARIA FERNANDA FERRINI (Macerata), “[Arist.] Physiogn. 812b6 Bekker/812b16 – Förster: οἰνωποί/αἰγωποί. Manuscript tradition and conjecture.”
10.20-11.00: BÉKÉS ENIKŐ (Budapest), “The physiognomy of Apostle Paul”
11.00 Coffee

11.30 Session 2

11.30-12.10: ANTONELLA GHERSETTI (Venezia), “Physiognomy in the Arabic tradition”
12.10-12.50: JOSEPH ZIEGLER (Haifa), “Reflections on the place of astrology in learned physiognomy”
12.50 Lunch

14.10 Session 3

14.10-14.50: DANIELLE JACQUART (Paris), “La tradition galénique de la physiognomonie
14.50-15.30: OLEG VOSKOBOYNIKOV (Moscow), “Michael Scot, Hohenstaufen Court, Physiognomy in text and stone”
15.30 Coffee

16.00 Session 4

16.00-16.40: STEVEN J. WILLIAMS (Las Vegas), “Some observations on the scholarly reception of physiognomy in the thirteenth century: success, and the limits of success”
16.40-17.20: LISA DEVRIESE (LEUVEN),“The reception of Bartholomew of Messina’s translation of ps.-Aristotle’s Physiognomonica”
19.00 Conference dinner

Thursday 10 November 2016

09.00 Session 5

09.00-09.40: JOËL BIARD & CHRISTOPHE GRELLARD (Tours & Paris), “La place des Quaestiones super Phisionomam dans le système philosophique de Jean Buridan”
09.40-10.20: GABRIELLA ZUCCOLIN (Cambridge), “The Speculum physionomiae by Michele Savonarola. A critical edition”
10.20-11.00: LAETITIA MARCUCCI (Marseille), “Physiognomy and the geography of knowledge during the Renaissance period: the paradigmatic and peculiar case of Jean d’Indagine’s Compendium”
11.00 Coffee

11.30 Session 6

11.30-12.10: EVA VIGH (Szeged), “The zoomorphic physiognomy of Giovan Battista Porta”
12.10-12.50: MARTIN PORTER (Lyon), “’The Art of Discerning Others’ (1666): Physiognomy in James Boevey’s ‘Active Philosophy’”
12.50 Concluding Remarks

Informations pratiques :

When : 09 Nov 2016 09:15 AM to 10 Nov 2016 12:50 PM
Where Iers College (Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe)
Contact Name Lisa Devriese

Contact & registration:

Source : KU Leuven