Lines of Loyalties and Early Modern Cultural Diversity: Colophons as Sites of Encounters

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In the early modern period, moments of personal transition manifested in written documents that had to be signed by officials, testimonies, and the people who were affected by them. The material enactment of these manuscripts relied on the cultural significance of the colophon, here defined as a scribal practice that aims at the identification, authentication, signature, and the sociocultural positioning of manuscripts. I take these observations as a starting point in order to reflect on the broader cultural role of colophons in scenarios of cultural transition and encounters in early modern Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic world. This chapter explores how the increasing routines of cultural contacts and crossings affected the notion of colophons, as well as how scribes could use the dynamics of cross-cultural encounters to craft highly personalised colophons that spoke to a variety of audiences in different ways. I reconsider the role of scribal signatures as an early modern means to reflect upon, comment on, and personally inscribe into cultural encounters. Case studies presented in this chapter discuss colophons composed in sixteenth-century France; by Jesuit missionaries travelling the sixteenth-century world; Anglo-Indigenous colophons from New England; colophons composed by Indigenes living in sixteenth-century Iberia; and colophons by Muslim converts living in sixteenth-century Rome. As these examples illustrate, protagonists used signing practices to negotiate cultural boundaries and to embody cultural belonging in the early modern world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScribal Practice and the Global Cultures of Colophons, 1400–1800
EditorsChristopher R. Bahl, Stefan Hanß
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-90154-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-90153-0
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameTransculturalisms, 1400–1700


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