Adam Jasienski


François Chevalier fellow

Southern Methodist University

Effluent Bodies: Affect and Salvation in Early Modern Catholicism

Adam Jasienski, originally from Kraków, Poland, received his BA (2008), MA (2011), and PhD (2016) degrees from Harvard University. He has taught at the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University since 2016, first as Assistant Professor and since August 2022 as Associate Professor. He has published articles in journals such as ,Archivo Español de Arte Art History, and Muqarnas, and he was awarded the Arthur Kinglsey Porter Prize for an article in The Art Bulletin. His book, titled Praying to Portraits: Audience, Identity, and the Inquisition, is forthcoming from Penn State University Press in the spring of 2023.

He is currently the Berenson Fellow at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti, as well as the Marilynn Thoma Postdoctoral Fellow in the Art of the Spanish Americas. His new research project, on the emotion of disgust in the early modern period, stems from an essay that he recently published in the I Tatti Research Series.

Disgust is a crucial lens for understanding much imagery produced in early modern Catholic contexts, including in Spain, southern Italy, Mexico, and South America. Often-gruesome martyrological imagery was intended to produce an initial reaction not just of horror, as has often been suggested, but of disgust. In turn, the overcoming of this disgust was understood as a virtuous act, in which the faithful imitated holy figures, for whom the vanquishing of affect, associated with the weakness of the body, was a linchpin of their saintly activities.

The first part of my project considers how disgust and salvation interplayed in early modern theoretical and artistic conceptions of the body of the king, whose death was cast as a martyrdom. The second suggests that the visibility of a relic in its encasement was inversely proportionate to the duration of the faithful’s interaction with that relic. Other sections will focus on hagiographies and conversion narratives that center on the emotion of revulsion.

- Forthcoming April 2023. Praying to Portraits: Audience, Identity, and the Inquisition in the Early Modern Hispanic World, The Pennsylvania State University Press

- 2022. Disgust and the Sacred Image in Early Modernity,” in Sacrifice and Conversion in the Early Modern Atlantic World, ed. Maria Berbara. Florence, Milan: I Tatti Research Series, Officina Libraria

- 2021. “Velázquez and the Fragile Portrait of the King,” Art History 44, 5 (November 2021): 922-947.

- 2020. “Francisco Pacheco y una anunciada intervención de Fernando III el santo: Un testimonio sobre el Libro de retratos,” Archivo Español de Arte 93, 372 (October- December 2020): 409-416.

- 2020. “Converting Portraits: Repainting as Art Making in the Early Modern Hispanic World,” The Art Bulletin 102, 1 (March 2020): 7-30.