Journal Article

Inventoried monsters

Touba Ghadessi

in Journal of the History of Collections

Volume 23, issue 2, pages 267-281
Published in print November 2011 | ISSN: 0954-6650
Published online November 2010 | e-ISSN: 1477-8564 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhq031
Inventoried monsters

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Inventories stand as records of ducal and regal possessions and offer glimpses into the politics of display associated with the households of rulers. In these inventories, the oscillation between object and subject is for monsters one that is particularly legible: dwarves were listed alongside typical attendants but were also classified as objects of curiosity; the names of hirsute subjects were written next to those of noble-men who received land, yet other inventories listed them as Christmas gifts. By ‘inventorying’ monsters, secretaries attempted to categorize them alongside normal subjects and objects and thus to regularize their existence within the established rigid parameters of court settings. As systems of conventions that integrated dissidence into a regulated frame, inventories imposed a classification scheme that, in fact, highlighted the liminal position of court monsters.

Journal Article.  11382 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; History of Art ; Social and Cultural History

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