Interstitial EP012

The Making of Measure and the Promise of Sameness
by Emanuele Lugli

Measurement standards shape space, enforce power, and mold elaborate fantasies. Art historian Emanuele Lugli traces our preoccupation with exactitude back to the Middle Ages.


The Making of Measure and the Promise of Sameness

'The Making of Measure and the Promise of Sameness' book cover

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Emanuele Lugli
University of Chicago Press
May 2019

Emanuele Lugli is an assistant professor of art history at Stanford University. He teaches and writes about late medieval and early modern art, with a particular emphasis on Italian painting, trade, urban culture, and the history of fashion. He is the author of Unità di Misura: Breve Storia del Metro in Italia (Il Mulino, 2014) and The Making of Measure and the Promise of Sameness (University of Chicago Press, 2019); and the editor, with Joan J. Kee, of To Scale (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).


The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World

Ken Alder

This is the best book ever written on the history of how the metric system came to be. It’s a masterpiece of historical accuracy about a project that succeeded even if it failed. Yet, it is also a most pleasurable travel book since Alder took the same journey that the French scientists took to measure the portion of the Parisian meridian from which the meter was eventually derived.

Dominion of the Eye: Urbanism, Art and Power in Early Modern Florence

Marvin Trachtenberg

Shout out to my dissertation supervisor who wrote the most enlightening book on the creation of urban spaces in medieval Florence and the ways they are intertwined with the political ideology of the time. Without this groundbreaking book and Trachtenberg’s relentless support, The Making of Measure would never have been written.

The Name of the Rose

Jean-Jacques Annaud

Based on the bestselling novel by Umberto Eco, this film beautifully captures the making of medieval manuscripts and the way that they handed down centuries-old ideas about power, religion, and classical culture. When writing The Making of Measure I often thought of the monastery in which this crime story takes place, at the center of an abysmally large estate, frozen in time.

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