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Common Medicine for the Common Man: Picturing the “Striped Layman” in Early Vernacular Print

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 March 2021

Tillmann Taape
Affiliation:
Columbia University

Abstract

The disruptive figure of the “striped layman” appeared in printed texts and images around the year 1500 in the southern German lands. This essay shows how it came to represent a new kind of reader of vernacular medical publications. Exploring the illustrated books of the Strasbourg surgeon-apothecary Hieronymus Brunschwig, their local context of humanist discourse, and the visual practice of their publisher, Johann Grüninger, I argue that their oft-neglected woodcuts of people in striped clothes constitute powerful visual commentary of Brunschwig's (and others’) mission to impart medical agency and expertise to the “common man” at the eve of the Reformation.

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Articles
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Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Published by the Renaissance Society of America

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Footnotes

I sincerely thank Lauren Kassell, Sachiko Kusukawa, Elaine Leong, Ulinka Rublack, and Pamela Smith for their insightful comments on various incarnations of this essay.

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