University of Oregon

The Graphic Nature of Projects

Talk by Vera Keller (Robert D. Clark Honors College)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 4:45-6:45 p.m.

Modernity is unthinkable without projects. We all pursue projects, large and small, in our intellectual research as well as in our daily lives, which are in turn shaped by projects on the local, national, and global levels. We might be surprised to learn, however, that the term project in its modern sense as a plan for the future (rather than literally something thrown out or forward, from the Latin, “pro + icere”) is only a few centuries old. The modern projects originated in sixteenth-century graphic practices, as an architectural, engineering or military sketch adumbrating a future building, rampart, or battle arrangement. Only slowly, across the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, did the term come to mean a way to envision and shape the future. The 1720 Great Mirror of Folly (Grote Tafereel der Dwaasheid), which explored the first major stock market crash in a riot of innovative political cartoons, played a role in spreading the notion of the project and re-shaping graphic views of the less-than-savory figure of the “projector."

This talk is presented by the Oregon Rare Books Initiative and co-sponsored by the UO Libraries' Special Collections and University Archives, the Oregon Humanities Center, the Robert D. Clark Honors College, and the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Biography at Rare Book School (University of Virginia).

Please Note: The talk originally scheduled on this date, "An Entirely Reasonable Madness: The Crash of 1720 and and the Great Mirror of Folly" with Catherine Labio of the University of Colorado-Boulder, has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience.

This event is free and open to the public. Accommodations for people with disabilities will be provided if requested in advance by calling 541-346-3056, or email

University of Oregon Libraries
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