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Ruth von Bernuth (Chapel Hill): Representing Otherness. Little People in the ‘Zwerchen Cabinet’ (Augsburg 1715)

Date: Friday 25 November, 3-4pm, Taylor Institution Library, Room 2

The talk will discuss the representation of otherness in an Augsburg publication from 1715 which provides a series of images of little people from different countries with captions in a number of languages, showing how this depends on the tradition developed by Sebastian Brant’s “Narrenschiff”.

Prof. Ruth von Bernuth is Professor of German at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Centre of Hebrew and Jewish Studies and at St Edmund Hall in MT 2022. She has published widely on early modern German and Yiddish literature and the literary representation of fools.

Image:  Jacob Ries, the ‘Jüdischer HanßWurst’ (Jewish Jester) from the ‘Zwerchen Cabinet’ (Augsburg 1715), no. 51

Caption: “Ein Ries dem Nahmen nach, ein Zwerg in seiner Länge, Ein schalck in folio, in einem kleinen Leib” (A giant by his name, a dwarf by length; a large scale villain in a small body)

3 thoughts on “Ruth von Bernuth (Chapel Hill): Representing Otherness. Little People in the ‘Zwerchen Cabinet’ (Augsburg 1715)”

  1. Dear Dr. Bernuth,

    My name is Mark Rosen and I am an English Teacher and live in Denver, Colorado. As a hobby and sometimes obsession I am studying the many editions of a book entitled ‘Il Callotto resuscitato oder Neu eingerichtes Zwerchen Kabinett’ first published app 1700 and republished time and again all over the continent and England with the most current edition having been published in 1981. The book is a collection of engravings of Human Dwarfs that were drawn as if Giants in a land of Lilliputians accompanied by poetry that further satirizes historical blunders of the time.

    I am working on a new edition of “Callotto’ and plan to show engravings from the many editions of the book that I have collected as well as something that has never been shown and that is the figurines of those Dwarfs recreated by still other artists in porcelain, faience, ivory, wood, bronze and life-size carved out of stone. I have some 18 different editions so far collected of the Callotto book as well as pictures of 100’s of Gartenzwerg and beautiful Porcelain Dwarfs from Meissen, Sevres, Hochst, Capodimonte, and others that decorate all the walls of my family room/studio.

    I am sending you a copy of the engraving of Jacob Reis that started my obsession with Callot Dwarfs. I found him to be a part of the book listed above and have found 21 engravings of him so far, each is different or unique, and each engraving is slightly different than the one I show you here as no two editions of the book are exactly the same. He also served in the Imperial Court of Vienna under Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI (1700s) and then as HofKammerzwerg in the Court of August the Strong in the years of 1722-1733. Perhaps he played the role of Hanswurst on the Vienna Stage with the Troupe of Johann Stranitzky. He lived to be 91 years of age in a time when old age was perhaps 45. This engraving, that I show you below, has been passed down in my family from Father to Son for more than 300 years and Yes, I am a direct descendant of this little Callotto Dwarf Jacob Reis/Ries/Ris or with pun intended-Jacob the Giant.

    I would really like to correspond with you and I hope my story puts a smile upon your face.

    Sorry but I cannot add my engraving to this comment form.

    Mark Rosen
    1854 South Ivy street
    Denver, Colorado 80224

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