Faculty Activities: Karen Barzman

Giorgio Vasari, detail, The Defeat of the Pisans at the Tower of Vicenzo, Salone del Cinquecento, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

Read about Associate Professor Karen-edis Barzman’s foray into early Federalist America in a seminar on gender and performativity (which also took her into local archives in western New York State) in “Finding ‘Women’s?’ History in Unexpected Places.  The Tale of the Publick Universal Friend,” currently online in The Journal of Women’s History:


Professor Barzman sends regards from more familiar territory – the archives and libraries of Venice, where she is completing research for a book on borderlands and the limits of identity in the Venetian territorial state (16th-18th centuries), with a focus on Dalmatia.

While abroad she is also conducting a graduate reading course this fall (via skype) titled “Gunpowder and Publicity:  Arts of War in the Early Modern State.” This course explores the impact of new technologies of war on architecture and urban planning in the early modern era, and the inclusion of these new technologies in the visual arts.   For those interested in early modern Europe, the focus is on gunpowder and the printing press (both, new in that context); for those interested in the Ottoman Empire or Mughal India, gunpowder (new in the 15th century) and illuminated manuscripts.  After reading a selection of texts (primary and secondary), students will work on one of the following:  the invention of gunpowder and artillery and the design of architecture to stand up to their combined force; the (re)fortification of cities for the same purpose and the planning of borderland fortresses and towns with the advent of this new technology;  ideal plans for “movable cities” (military encampments), including the design and arrangement of “soft architecture” transported from site to site; the emergence of professional military engineers;  the rise of topographical mapping for the strategic planning of warfare driven by firearms and/or cannon;  celebratory woodcuts and copperplate engraving representing the use of artillery and firearms in the defeat of adversaries of the state;  the evolution of palace frescoes or other forms of painting, including manuscript illumination, championing gun-powder in the expansion of empire and sovereign territory.  The chronological focus is the late 15th through 18th centuries.


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