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Distributed Cognition in Enlightenment and Romantic Culture$
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Miranda Anderson, George Rousseau, and Michael Wheeler

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442282

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442282.001.0001

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Eighteenth-Century Antiquity: Extended, Embodied, Enacted

Eighteenth-Century Antiquity: Extended, Embodied, Enacted

(p.219) 13 Eighteenth-Century Antiquity: Extended, Embodied, Enacted
Distributed Cognition in Enlightenment and Romantic Culture

Helen Slaney

Edinburgh University Press

Sir William Hamilton’s Greek vase collection, assembled at Naples between the 1760s and 1790s, became a turning point in the reception of ancient material culture and hence in perceptions of classical antiquity. This chapter compares three angles of approach to the collection, each corresponding to a strand of distributed cognition. Extended cognition is represented by the catalogue which made the collection available to the reading public; embodied cognition is represented by the dance performances of Emma Hamilton, Sir William’s wife, who based her tableaux vivants of ancient life around the images represented on the vases; and enactive cognition by the aesthetic theory of the ‘feeling imagination’ developed by philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, who visited the Hamiltons at Naples and commented unfavourably on Emma’s performances. I argue that Herder’s rejection of Emma’s kinetic reception of ancient artwork was predicated in part on his reluctance to place physical limitations on simulated movement.

Keywords:   Emma Hamilton, William Hamilton, Greek vases, Dance, Tableaux vivants, Herder, Kinaesthesia, Embodied cognition, Exteneded cognition, Enacted cognition

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