Imagineering, or what images do to people: Violence and the spectacular in the seventeenth-century dutch republic

Frans Willem Korsten, Cornelis van der Haven, Inger Leemans, Karel Vanhaesebrouck, Michel van Duijnen, Yannice De Bruyn

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This article studies the visual representation of violence in the Dutch Republic and the growth of a “staple market of images” in the early modern period. It introduces and employs the concept of imagineering for analysing what images can do to people when circulated in the context of a fast-expanding market. The advancement of the early modern print industry and imagery marketing produced a swirl of violent images. It was through this “spectacle of violence” and its related sensory and embodied experiences, that new ways of looking were introduced, which helped to craft new selves and realities. As the public manifestation of violence by ruling powers became less dominant, violence could become a matter of private consumption; a commodity to be enjoyed. Producers needed to create new markets as well as serve an existing one, satisfying clients in their inquisitive search for knowledge and excitement. Imagineering was not just a mimetic duplicate of its historical context, here, it performatively altered the imagination through the effective use of a new cultural infrastructure that enabled a visual abundance and continuous repetition and remediation of images.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalCultural History
Issue number1
Early online dateMar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
3. This article results from our research project ‘Imagineering Violence: Techniques of Early Modern Performativity in the Northern and Southern Netherlands’ (ITEMP), funded by the Dutch and Flemish Organisations of Scientific Research (NWO and FWO). The ITEMP project researches the theatrical or spectacular visualization of violence in different media in the seventeenth century. See our website:

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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