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The making of measure and the promise of sameness

Author: Emanuele Lugli
Publisher: Chicago ; London : The University of Chicago Press, 2019. ©2019
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Measurement is all around us - from the circumference of a pizza to the square footage of an apartment, from the length of a newborn baby to the number of miles between neighboring towns. Whether inches or miles, centimeters or kilometers, measures of distance stand at the very foundation of everything we do, so much so that we take them for granted. Yet, this has not always been the case. This book reaches back to  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Emanuele Lugli
ISBN: 9780226612492 022661249X
OCLC Number: 1051680735
Description: xvii, 309 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 23 cm
Contents: Preface. Written in stone --
Part 1. Safes: Thinking through history ; Measurements, epistemological filters ; Metrological blurs ; The silent maneuvering of the tavole di ragguaglio ; Naturalizing measurements ; Metrologies ; Measureless art --
Part 2. Squares: The Pratissolo deal ; Opacifying the invisible ; The pietre di paragone ; Measurements, made and remade ; In the open ; Disciplining standards ; the politics of measurement ; Measurements and the people --
Part 3. Cities: Divine measures ; From fratres penitentie to religiosi viri ; Cutting through buildings ; Invisible boundaries ; Imposing self-control ; The ideology of order ; The height of Christ ; The touch of measurements --
Part 4. Fields: Dividing up the land ; The origins of medieval measurements ; Geo-metria ; Thinking through squares ; Frustrating bodies ; Fibonacci's standardizations --
Conclusion. The metamorphoses of measurements.
Responsibility: Emanuele Lugli.

Abstract:

Measurement is all around us - from the circumference of a pizza to the square footage of an apartment, from the length of a newborn baby to the number of miles between neighboring towns. Whether inches or miles, centimeters or kilometers, measures of distance stand at the very foundation of everything we do, so much so that we take them for granted. Yet, this has not always been the case. This book reaches back to medieval Italy to speak of a time when, far from being obvious, measurements were displayed in the open, showing how such a deceptively simple innovation triggered a chain of cultural transformations whose consequences are visible today on a global scale. Drawing from literary works and frescoes, architectural surveys and legal compilations, Emanuele Lugli offers a history of material practices widely overlooked by historians. He argues that the public display of measurements in Italy's newly formed city republics not only laid the foundation for now centuries-old practices of making, but also helped to legitimize local governments and shore up church power, buttressing fantasies of exactitude and certainty that linger to this day. This ambitious, truly interdisciplinary book explains how measurements, rather than being mere descriptors of the real, themselves work as powerful molds of ideas, affecting our notions of what we consider similar, accurate, and truthful.

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"This groundbreaking study shows that the public display of medieval standards of measure--artifacts and representations embodying historically local metrological units--'triggered a series of Read more...

 
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