Mannerism and modernity: A pictorial parallel to the print revolution | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 13, Issue 3-4
  • ISSN: 1539-7785
  • E-ISSN: 2048-0717



Within the intellectual tradition of media ecology, the origins and dynamics of modernity are attributed to the influence of the printing press. But this tradition, however, restricted as it has been largely to the study of written, printed, or at least language-based phenomena of the period, tends to tell a story of the origins of modernity in a relatively Protestant, northern-European context. But what of the Catholic South, where the printed word did not so readily reach the masses, and the image, disseminated via the plastic arts, continued to hold sway? It is in the social history of art that a media ecological perspective finds a parallel narrative of the birth of modernity, set largely in Catholic, southern Europe, but which soon spreads north via the artistic style and cultural sensibility of Mannerism. This article traces parallels between these two narratives in order to better understand this crucial cultural concept.


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