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Thinking with Images: from Raimon Llull to Network Theory (Rosa M. Rodríguez Porto)

Rosa M. Rodríguez Porto speaks at the Danish Institute for Advanced Study, 22 November 2017

In his influential book Graphs, Maps, Trees (2005), Franco Moretti advocated for the use of visual means of representation in the study of literature, in an attempt to convey a sharper sense of the interconnection of events and the dynamics operating behind “the large mass of facts”. Diagrammatic images are certainly able to display knowledge “literally in front of our eyes”, allowing scholars in the Humanities to analyze complex cultural phenomena in ways more akin to those of the natural and social sciences. However, the use of figures, trees and other visual schemes as cognitive tools has a long history that goes back to Antiquity and peaks in the Middle Ages, before the intrinsic textualized culture of Modernity relegated images to an epistemologically inferior status compared to words.

In this talk, I would like to explore some sophisticated diagrams created in the Middle Ages, scrutinizing their potential as vehicles of thought, memory aids and communicative devices, paying special attention to the work of the Majorcan philosopher, writer and mystic Raimon Llull (1232-1316), whose Tree of Knowledge and, above all, his Ars Magna have been vindicated as inspiration for computer scientists, logicians, linguists, and visual digital artists.

This talk is part of the Danish Institute for Advanced Study's IDEAS series.

The talk can be seen in the CML Media Archive

Editing was completed: 22.11.2017