Christopher Johnson

July 1, 18:00 – 19:00

Baroque Networks: Thing, Event, Expression

My talk makes a comparative and intermedial case for rethinking the concept of the Baroque by inductively attending to how objects, texts, artworks, people, styles, and ideas circulated in the seventeenth century. It contends that if the “Baroque” is to retain its heuristic power in the twenty-first century, then a less stable, more entangled notion is needed, one that can only be induced by mapping, across time and space, what Bruno Latour calls “immutable mobiles.” Such Baroque networks are, in brief, diachronic and synchronic creatures. They comprise an opera aperta: at once monadic and encyclopedic, local and global, they invite the contemporary reader and viewer to interpret, translate, or transcode in ways that strangely resemble how seventeenth-century ‘actors’ operated.


Author of Hyperboles: The Rhetoric of Excess in Baroque Literature and Thought and of Memory, Metaphor, and Aby Warburg’s Atlas of Images, Christopher Johnson is an associate professor of Spanish, German, and Comparative Literature in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University. He is currently writing a book about Baroque expression in literature and painting for Princeton University Press.