Hitherto relegated to the closets of art history and literary studies, book illustration has entered mainstream scholarship. The chapters of this collection offer only a glimpse of where a complete reconfiguration of the visual periphery of ...
eighteenth-century texts might ultimately take us. The use of the gerund of the verb 'to reconfigure' in the subtitle of this collection, instead of the corresponding noun, underlines the work-in-progress character of this interdisciplinary endeavour, which aims above all to discern new vistas while charting or revisiting landmarks in the rich field of eighteenth-century book illustration. The specific interpretive lenses through which contributors to this collection re-evaluate the visual periphery of the text cover an array of disciplines and areas of interest; among these, the most prominent are book history and print culture, art history and image theory, material and visual culture, word and image interaction, feminist theory and gender studies, history of medicine and technology. This spectrum could have been even less restrictive and more colourful if it were not for pragmatic and editorial considerations. Nonetheless, its plurality of vision provides a framework for an inclusive and multifaceted approach to eighteenth-century book illustration. Perhaps these essays are most valuable in the practical models they provide on how to tackle the interdisciplinary challenge that is the study of the eighteenth-century illustrated book. The collection as such is the first formal step in an effort to rethink or reconfigure the visual periphery of eighteenth-century texts. It has become clear that the study of the illustrated book of the Age of Enlightenment has the potential of yielding multiple findings, perspectives and discourses about a society immersed in visual culture, skilled in visual communication and reflected in the visual legacy it left behind.