Skip to main content

This is your Donation message.

Stephanie Leitch

Published February 18, 2014

Stephanie LeitchAssociate Professor
Northern European Art and History of Graphics
2020–21 Graduate Faculty Mentor Award
PhD University of Chicago
3025 William Johnston Building
Curriculum Vitae

Research Areas

Stephanie Leitch specializes in the history of printmaking with an emphasis on the ruptures in knowledge-making that occurred in the early press. Her research treats the visual data of peoples, places, and things as they appear in early modern prints and printed books. Her latest book, Early Modern Print Media and the Art of Observation: Training a Literate Eye, unpacks popular vernacular genres of the sixteenth century that coached visual practices. There were among the first printed books that encouraged systematic observation as a way to interact with the world empirically. Aligning avenues of inquiry from art history and the history of science, this book scrutinizes the visual strategies at work in physiognomies, cosmographies, and natural histories to assess how they supported claims of first-hand experience.

Early modern printmakers trained observers to scan both the heavens above and faces in their midst. The Bavarian printer and astronomer Peter Apian published the Cosmographicus Liber (1524) to teach lay observers their place in the cosmos, but he also printed practical manuals that also translated spherical astronomy into data for more useful for weather watchers, farmers, and astrologers. Another type of observational skill was taught by physiognomy, a type of book that instructed observers to scrutinize peoples’ profiles for insight into their character. Few have heard of these genres today, but they were related to other genres, such as chiromancy and metoscopy, that emerged from judicial astrology. Although this knowledge was transmitted  throughout the middle ages via the Books of Secrets, sixteenth century printers updated this material, packaging the content into pictorial how-to volumes. This book unpacks these and other visual strategies that aimed to develop the visual acuity and the literate eye of the reader.

Her first book, Mapping Ethnography in Early Modern Germany: New Worlds in Print Culture (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) explored the visual thinking about humanity in worlds new to Europe in early sixteenth century Germany. Representations of the inhabitants of America, Africa and Asia emerged among artists Hans Burgkmair, Jörg Breu and humanists in their milieu in Augsburg. Their prints challenge both art historical and anthropological models to consider cross-cultural exchange in Renaissance print culture and argue for the role of visual culture in ethnography’s development. Mapping Ethnography in Early Modern Germany won the Roland H. Bainton prize for Art History in 2011.

Link to the interview:


Emily White

Completed Dissertations

Lacy Gillette: “People Watching in Paper Worlds: Jost Amman (1539-1591) and Picturing the ‘Type’ in the Sixteenth-Century Illustrated Book.”
Britt Boler Hunter: “The Wellcome Apocalypse: Innovating Pictorial Traditions in the Ordinatio of a Late Medieval Multi-Text Manuscript.” (Co-chair)
Alexandra Challenger: “Measuring the Heavens: Printed Instruments, Illustrations, and the Construction of Cosmography in Early Modern Germany.”
Rachel Masters Carlisle: “All’antica Augsburg: Picturing German Antiquity in the Age of Print.”
Carolina Alarcon: “Materia Medica: Anatomical Illustrations in Renaissance Spain.”
Sarah Andyshak: “Christ and Exegesis: Visual Interpretation in the Moralized Bibles, Circa 1225-1235.” (Co-chair)
Diantha Steinhilper, “Identity and Empire in the Colonial Maps of Mexico,1524-1600.” (Co-chair)
List of FSU Art History dissertations

Graduate Seminars

  • Rethinking the Renaissance
  • European Encounters with the New World
  • Fact and Fiction in the Early Modern Print
  • Renaissance Organization: Documenting, Collecting, and Remembering

Lecture Courses

  • Art of Northern Europe
  • Cosmopolitan Renaissance
  • Cross-cultural Currents in the Renaissance
  • History of Printmaking

Selected Publications

Stephanie Leitch and DeWayne Carver, “Why watch the eclipse? Sun and Shadow show how science works,” Tallahassee Democrat, April 5, 2024

“Early Modern Print Media and the Art of Observation: Training the Literate Eye” (Cambridge University Press, 2024).

“Mapping the Hand and Scanning the Forehead: Embedding Knowledge in Astrological Images”, in Emblems in the Free Imperial City: Emblems, Empire, and Identity in Early Modern Nürnberg (Brill, 2024), Mara Wade, et. al., eds.

“Copies with Wings: Bridging Distances by Printing the Familiar in the Travel Accounts of Theodore de Bry and Levinus Hulsius,” in Far from the Truth: Distance and the Problem of Credibility in the Early Modern World (Routledge), Michiel van Groesen and Johannes Müller, eds.

“A Customized Housebook of Repurposed Prints: the Liber Quodlibetarius, c. 1524,” in Customized Books in Early Modern Europe, 1400-1700 (Brill), Walter Melion and Christopher Fletcher, eds.

“Visual Images in Travel Writing,” in N. Das and T. Youngs, eds., Cambridge History of Travel Writing (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 456-473.

“Dürer’s Rhinoceros Underway: the Epistemology of the Copy in the Early Modern Print,” in D. Cashion et al., eds., The Primacy of the Image in Northern European Art, 1400-1700: Essays in Honor of Larry Silver (Boston: Brill, 2017), 241-255.

“Cosmopolitan Renaissance: Prints in the Age of Exchange,” in Daniel Savoy, ed., The Globalization of Renaissance Art: A Critical Review (Boston: Brill, 2017); 176-217.

“Visual Epistemology and a Short History of the Monstrous Races,” History of Knowledge, June 3, 2017.

“Visual Acuity and the Physiognomer’s Art of Observation,” Oxford Art Journal 2015.

“Vespucci’s Triangle and the Shape of the World,” in A. Cardoso and L. Villas Bôas (eds.), Cadernos de Letras 29: Estudos Atlânticos: Literatura, História, Cultura.

Mapping Ethnography in Early Modern Germany: New Worlds in Print Culture (Palgrave, 2010).

“Burgkmair’s Peoples of Africa and India (1508) and the Origins of Ethnography in Print,” Art Bulletin 91:2 (June 2009), 134-15.

“The Wild Man, Charlemagne, and the German Body,” Art History: Journal of the Association of Art Historian 31:3 (June 2008), 283-302.

“Seeing Objects in Personal Devotion,” Pious Journeys: Christian Devotional Art and Practice in the later Middle Ages and Renaissance (Chicago, 2001).


American Council of Learned Societies 2018 Collaborative Fellowship

Bold Books and Bones:
An interview with Stephanie Leitch on the Nuremberg Chronicle

In the summer of 2023, Dr. Leitch led the 45th international summer course at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, on the topic of Early Modern Visual Data: Organizing Knowledge in Printed Books. The workshop is featured in this video published by the Herzog August Bibliothek: