Mirabella 2011

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Mirabella, Bella, ed. Ornamentalism: The Art of Renaissance Accessories. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011.

Adam Smyth, "What We Talk about When We Talk about Scissors" (293-307)

ghostly rust left from scissors in First Folio; "the marks of objects in books represent a form of mechanical marginalia -- if the term can be expanded this far -- that has been largely overlooked." (293)

paintings with images of scissors alongside books; "one prop in a suite of tools used to navigate early modern books" (294)

"There is something unnerving about objects that have been abandoned, or lost, by subjects -- a sense that these objects languish outside of time -- and these traces have an interest beyond the facts of early modern book production. They are striking because they vividly convey a sense of something that is no longer there -- and illustrate that, for a thing to be felt as lost, a trace needs to remain." (294)

two methodologies: material (examine early modern scissors) and discursive (representation of scissors in early modern discourse); "what kind of a relationship can we propose between our encounter with extant material objects in archives, and our reading of early modern discourses and representations? How does a pair of sixteenth-century shears found in a London street relate to the story of Samson and Delilah?" (295)

scissors often packeted with other writing tools, penknife, stylus of steel; cases of these worn suspended from a belt

object/abject slippage

Atropos, cutting the thread of life -- depicted with scissors or shears; Samson/Delilah

how do objects in use and narratives relate?

two poles: "On one extreme: an object that serves only an instrumental purpose (scissors, for example, that exist only to cut). Such an object might be said to invoke no past narratives but to exist only in the present tense - in the moment when scissors are cutting paper. Such an object is entirely instrumental. On the other extreme: an object that has no instrumental purpose (scissors that never cut), and that seems, as a result, trivial, or useless or superfluous. When an object becomes trivial, any narratives, traditions, or culture representation that are available are more vividly invoked (decorated and unused scissors, for instance, that conjure the stories of Delilah and Atropos)." (302)