Session at the RSA 2020 Conference, Philadelphia
A distinct rhetorical genre in praise of things that are unworthy or trifling, the mock encomium was well and widely known in early modern Europe. There is ample scholarship on its literary manifestations and its use by prominent writers such as Erasmus and Rabelais. Painters, sculptors and even architects found inspiration in the mock encomium, transmuting a literary genre into visual forms. Scholars are coming to recognize the broader significance of the device for art on both sides of the Alps, as for example in “burlesque” paintings of market or peasant scenes. When looked for, the mockencomium emerges surprisingly often in works of art in the Long Renaissance, and offers an important interpretive key.
We welcome papers that explore the paradoxical encomium in all forms of visual art.