A History of Paper as a Transformative Medium: from Ancient China to Contemporary Australia
Free Public Lecture
Kathleen Fitzpatrick Theatre
2019 Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellowship Lecture
The development and spread of paper has always opened up new cultural possibilities for recording and disseminating information: the printing and literacy revolution in early modern Europe is only the best known case. Yet the broader history of this humble and everyday item as a transformative medium has been less discussed. From its origins in China, and especially as it was adopted in the Muslim world, paper transformed the ways artists and architects created their art, from the spread of drawing and life studies to the sharing of designs, technologies and artistic trade secrets.
In this lecture, Jonathan M. Bloom will present joint research carried out with Professor Sheila S. Blair, charting the world-changing role of paper from its origins in China, across the Muslim world into Renaissance Europe, and into the Americas and contemporary Australian life.
Professors Bloom and Blair are internationally recognised scholars of medieval and early modern Islamic culture and art history. Blair and Bloom teach, research, and write as a team. They jointly hold the Norma Jean Calderwood University Professorship of Islamic and Asian Art, emeriti, at Boston College, and the Hamad Bin Khalifa Endowed Chair in Islamic Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Image: A Library, from al-Hariri, Maqamat, 1236-1237. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, ms. Arabe 5847