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Worlds Encompassed: Premodern Making and Mingling

Shields Library (Lobby - Archives and Special Collections)

May 2, 2024 - September 30, 2024

Welcome to the wonders of the premodern world where you might encounter a lamia, be tempted by a devil, trade spices along the silk road, sample chocolate, witness the banners of a terrible battle, or encounter a beneficent deity. This exhibition presents the marvels and the mundane of life in far flung empires and worlds of a time long ago. Linger over rare illustrations and texts both strange and familiar to find the threads of connection that tie the past to the present.

This exhibition showcases premodern manuscripts and imprints from the Archives and Special Collections in the UC Davis Shields library, supplemented by student works from the Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) program. Through a selection of rare books and materials curated from a global perspective, the exhibit enables viewers to envision the lived worlds of human experience in dynamic interconnection, uncovering not a single “world” but rather varied and often interlocking processes of world-making by which people in different locales and cultures experienced, understood, and shaped their places in relation to their global contexts. It guides viewers through five modes, in six exhibition cases, by which premodern worlds have been experienced:

  • Objects in circulation
  • Peoples and other beings in representation
  • Cartographical thinking
  • The rise of vernacular languages and literatures
  • The workings of technology.