Timing the Self in Sixteenth-Century Augsburg: Veit Konrad Schwarz (1541-61)

25 Jan 2018

This article explores the interrelated notions of time and the self in sixteenth-century Augsburg. It focuses on Veit Konrad Schwarz, a young Augsburg patrician, and his ‘Little Book of Clothes’ (1561). Veit circumvented the invisibility of time by making the material culture of temporality an essential part of his self-representation. The visual representation of timing the self was a significant skill, and self-narratives such as Veit’s served to represent a person’s connoisseurship in managing time. The article adopts a twofold approach to the inter-relationship of self and time during the early modern period. First, genitures, horoscopes and birthdays are shown to have been significant for the representation of notions of time and practices of dating. Birth-referential timing shaped understandings of life and personhood within early modern groups. Secondly, by examining how Veit addressed both missed and anticipated moments in his manuscript’s key narrative about the transition of a youth into a man, the article shows that managing a proper balance between moments and timespans served to demonstrate a person’s proficiency in recognizing moments that were appropriate for action, for description and for illustration.