Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies. 2015, 46 (2), 1-22
Diagrams, maps, and other forms of graphic visualization are nowadays discussed as a specific mode of communication, graphicacy, typical of the modern age with its ever-increasing role of visual media in social life. This essay questions this tendency to see graphicacy as a by-product of modernity by surveying various forms of representational graphic signs and systems that were placed on various media in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, and it suggests that this graphic material should be seen as expressions of the very same mode of communication rising at the time of the sociocultural—and more specifically, religious—transformation of the late Roman and post-Roman worlds. With reference to this graphic evidence, early graphicacy is defined as a mode of visual communication of conceptual information and abstract ideas by means of non-figural graphic devices, which may comprise inscribed letters, words, and isolated decorative symbols.
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