restricted access 1 Apin’s Cabinet of Printed Curiosities
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41 Chapter 1 Apin’s Cabinet of Printed Curiosities A t the cusp of the Enlightenment and toward the end of the early modern period, Siegmund Jacob Apin wrote a treatise on pedagogy titled Dissertatio de variis discendi methodis memoriae causa inventis earumque usu et abusu (Dissertation on various methods of learning, invented for the sake of memory, and on their use and abuse) that was first published in 1725 and then appeared in a revised and augmented edition in 1731. This work offers a helpful point of orientation for the first chapter of this book, since it provides a sort of synoptic view over diverse species of didactic and mnemonic image usage. From his preface to the reader, we learn that his treatise’s inventory of pedagogical images is also in part a description of his own collection of illustrated books and prints. The first chapter of his dissertation introduces and offers brief descriptions of well over one hundred engravings, woodcuts, and illustrated books, many of which are from his collection. He organizes the pedagogical images in his treatise into twenty different subjects that range from philosophy to history to geography to astronomy. With the exception of a few calligraphic flourishes, the Dissertatio is entirely unillustrated . It is possible that Apin simply could not afford to illustrate his dissertation, but it is also conceivable that this reliance on textual modes of expression could be an indication of his waning confidence in the capacities of visual representations to instruct, a topic that is explicitly addressed in the second chapter of the treatise. Apin lived in a transitional era, in which one form of learning and organizing knowledge was dying out and a new one was coming into existence.1 It is for this reason that he is a particularly valuable tour guide to understanding the role of images in early modern classrooms; his treatise allows us to see and to make sense of the waning of the world of visual representation that I am trying to bring back to life in this book. On the title page Apin is identified as the rector of the Aegidien school (in Braunschweig , Germany) and as a fellow of the imperial Academia naturae curiosorum (Academy of those Curious about Nature, known today as the Leopoldina).2 This scientific society was modeled on the Italian academies and would go on to count Goethe among detail of figure 20 42 chapter one its members. Apin studied in Altdorf and visited Halle, Leipzig, and Wittenberg;3 he is also known to have attended lectures in Jena by the Protestant theologian and philosopher Johann Franz Budde (1667–­ 1729), who in his Elementa philosophiae instrumentalis aims to free his readers from any type of philosophical authority. While the works described in Apin’s treatise and held in his collection were falling out of favor and use in his day, for the previous century they had represented a dominant means of transmitting knowledge across the European continent. This chapter argues that the modes of pictorial representation employed in the works described in Apin’s treatise are designed to maintain their integration with the lived activities of the viewer. I contend that these images are objects of use that guided viewers’ actions, almost like a behavioral road map. In the first section I focus on Apin’s opening chapter, entitled “Sistens varia Eruditorum inventa mnemonica” (Laying out the various mnemonic devices of the learned), in which, as noted above, he catalogues important epistemological prints of the early modern period. My discussion presents some of the strategies these plural images deploy for integrating themselves into pedagogical and scholarly contexts. I believe that we cannot appreciate these visual representations without understanding the ways in which they function as epistemological tools. Unless otherwise noted, all of the prints that I will be discussing in the first section of this chapter are described in the first chapter of Apin’s treatise and were also likely a part of his own private collection of printed documents. In the second section I focus in greater detail on the uses of the plural images of philosophy that Apin introduces, and in particular on the functions of a category of broadside he discusses, the illustrated thesis print. As noted in the introduction, the broadsides of Meurisse, Chéron, and Gaultier are all thesis prints that were employed in the complicated rituals surrounding academic disputations. In the third section I turn to chapter 2 of the treatise, entitled “Diiudicans allata...