Perspective and Perspicuity in the Renaissance (1400-1600)
Pablo Maurette is an assistant professor of English at North Central College. His research focuses on the intersections between literature, aesthetics, and natural philosophy in the Renaissance, in particular with regards to the history of the senses. He received his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and held a Harper-Schmidt Fellowship in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. His articles have appeared in Dionysius, Renaissance Quarterly, Sixteenth Century Journal, English Literary Renaissance, and the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and his first book, The Forgotten Sense: Meditations on Touch, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2018.
This project centers on the discovery of linear perspective in the fifteenth century and its immediate cultural repercussions in disciplines such as rhetoric and poetics. Linear perspective is the expression of a spatial craving for depth and proximity that betrays an aesthetic tendency to what we might today call “realism.” Its technique allows the artist to reproduce the world as the world is, in three dimensions, but it does so by creating an illusion. On the other hand, the notion of perspicuitas (perspicuity)—defined as clearness of statement and exposition—is often praised by sixteenth-century rhetoricians for its ability to make language come to life. "Perspective and Perspicuity in the Renaissance" will look at these two notions and their significance in Italian culture throughout the roughly two hundred years between Brunelleschi and Patrizi (1400-1600). This project will explore the theoretical assumptions that underlie both these phenomena and, in doing so, will expose a novel outlook on the nature of artistic creation that the Renaissance brings forth in its tide of cultural innovations.