Woodcuts as Reading Guides
Woodcuts as Reading Guides
How Images Shaped Knowledge Transmission in Medical-Astrological Books in Dutch (1500-1550)
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Chapter 1. Bodies of Knowledge: Dutch Medical-Astrological Books between 1500-1550
Chapter 2. Organising Knowledge: Conceptualisations and Visual Strategies
Chapter 3. Knowledge Tools: The Perceived Epistemic Significance of Images
Chapter 4. Reliable Knowledge: Invoking Trust through Authority and Playfulness
Chapter 5. Customising Knowledge: Readers’ Engagement with Illustrated Books
List of figures
List of tables
Index of names and works

Andrea van Leerdam

Woodcuts as Reading Guides

How Images Shaped Knowledge Transmission in Medical-Astrological Books in Dutch (1500-1550)

In the first half of the sixteenth century, the Low Countries saw the rise of a lively market for practical and instructive books that targeted non-specialist readers. This study shows how woodcuts in vernacular books on medicine and astrology fulfilled important rhetorical functions in knowledge communication. These images guided readers’ perceptions of the organisation, visualisation, and reliability of knowledge. Andrea van Leerdam uncovers the assumptions and intentions of book producers to which images testify, and shows how actual readers engaged with these illustrated books. Drawing on insights from the field of information design studies, she scrutinises the books’ material characteristics, including their lay-outs and traces of use, to shed light on the habits and interests of early modern readers. She situates these works in a culture where medicine and astrology were closely interwoven in daily life and where both book producers and readers were exploring the potential of images.

Andrea van Leerdam

Andrea van Leerdam is curator of rare books at Utrecht University Library. She holds a PhD in book history from the same university. She also worked for ten years as a humanities communications advisor.