The invention of hieroglyphs: a theory for the transmission of hieroglyphs in early-modern Europe

Leal, Pedro Germano Moraes Cardoso (2014) The invention of hieroglyphs: a theory for the transmission of hieroglyphs in early-modern Europe. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The present dissertation investigates the process of transmission of hieroglyphs from Egypt to Early-Modern Europe. This phenomenon has been studied by Egyptologists and Art Historians, mostly from a historical and descriptive standpoint, but here an original theoretical perspective was adopted: Grammatology or the study of writing.

In order to understand this process of stimuli diffusion, and its outcome, it was deemed necessary to delve into both the Egyptian writing-system and the hieroglyphic phenomenon in the Renaissance, which led the dissertation to be divided into two parts.

The First Part is devoted to The Ancient Hieroglyph: Chapter One addresses the mechanics of Egyptian hieroglyphs, their grammatological functions and the outline of a theory for the text-image dynamics in this context; Chapter Two examines the terminology of “hieroglyph” in Egypt, and its conceptual difference from the Greek and Contemporary views on the matter; Chapter Three describes the historical development of the Egyptian writing and a hypothesis for the emergence of a “hieroglyphic hermeneutics”; Chapter Four is dedicated to Horapollon’s Hieroglyphica, which is regarded as the main vector of diffusion between Ancient and Modern hieroglyphic traditions.

The Second Part focuses on The Early-Modern Hieroglyph: Chapter Five outlines the early process of diffusion and the first ideas of hieroglyph in the Renaissance; Chapter Six discusses the creation of new hieroglyphic codes; Chapter Seven tackles the role of hieroglyphs in the birth of the emblematic tradition and its continuous relationship on different culture levels; Chapter Eight look into the Spanish jeroglificos, regarding it as a hybrid genre of hieroglyphs and emblems; Chapter Nine explores the impact of Renaissance hieroglyphs on the cultural perception of writing; and finally, in Chapter Ten, the process of convergence between hieroglyphs, alchemical iconography and emblems is analysed in the light of the previous chapters.

It was found that there is an objective relationship between Ancient and Modern hieroglyphs, not easily perceptible and often downplayed as a result of a certain logocentrism, but of great importance – especially in terms of its impact on the establishment of a European text-image tradition.

Another conclusion is that, if Renaissance scholars, artists and poets thought it possible to write through images, and in fact created speaking pictures, visual compositions can be considered as a form of writing - being therefore a potential subject of Grammatology. This finding does not exclude other instruments of analysis, but creates a number of theoretical solutions in the field of text-image studies that have been employed in the present study.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Ph.D. in Text and Image Studies submitted to the Stirling Maxwell Centre, College of Arts.
Keywords: hieroglyph, emblem, text-image, grammatology, hermeneutics
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities
Supervisor's Name: Grove, Dr. Laurence and Adams, Prof. Alison
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Dr. Pedro Germano Moraes Cardoso Leal
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5167
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2014 13:16
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2014 13:30

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