Felix Jäger


Felix Jäger
Research Associate
The Warburg Institute
Woburn Square
London WC1H 0AB
Tel: +44 (0) 207 862 8919
Email: jaeger@bilderfahrzeuge.org

Research Project

Johann Georg after Angelus Carlescus, “Chirurgical Cuirass” (ΟΠΛΟΜΟΧΛΙΟΝ), copperplate engraving, in: Hieronymus Fabricius: Opere Cirugiche, Padua: Matteo Cadorino, 1671, tav. A1. (Credit: CC0 1.0)

Engineering Political Subjects: Early Modern Armor and the Post-Human Body

This project traces the political history of the body from objects of armor to recent technologies of “post-human” enhancement. Though militarily outdated since the advent of gunpowder warfare, armor puzzlingly became the centerpiece of early modern courtly material culture and continues to haunt the imaginary of the self through Romanticism, philosophical cyborg theory, and robot design. Unlike visual media, these objects were enacted prosthetically and transformed the wearer himself into a malleable “image vehicle,” such as envisioned by Warburg. The sovereign donned his suits at ceremonial occasions, triumphal entries, and state receptions, had them displayed in princely collections, exchanged as political gifts, and handed down through dynastic affiliation. They moved across geographies and cultures, but also confined the movement of their users and generated moving images. The functional sets of objects used in medieval jousts and pageants soon eclipsed a purely “accessory” meaning and demonstrated a close identification of the ruler with his material apparatus. Rather than visualizing social standing, however, in my reading, armor crafted the body of the wearer and the senses of the beholder by artistic means. These objects propelled disciplinary practices and managed affective sensibilities that engineered modern political subjects. Taking armor as a cue to general shifts in the negotiation of the biological body, “body image,” “habitus,” “persona,” identity, and subjectivity, I hope to outline a “synthetic” approach to political iconology that looks to materiality and intellectual history as much as to anthropology, neurology, and psychology. I argue that the study of armor, which remains dominated by military history and chivalric sentiment, may benefit from such a technological angle. On the other hand, armor spotlights the political and psychological issues also at stake in current wearable devices.


Research Interests:

Material Culture, Body Politics and Iconology of Law, Mannerism, Bildwissenschaft,Japan

Academic Background:

2005–2014      M.A.: Medieval History, Art History, and Philosophy, Humboldt University of Berlin / University College London

2014–2018     Pre-Doctoral Assistant: Minerva Research Group “Nomos of Images: Manifestation  and Iconology of Law”, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut

2015–present      Ph.D.: Art and Visual History, Humboldt-University of Berlin


“Bodies of Knowledge: Renaissance Armor and the Engineering of Mind”, in: Wearing Images = Espacio, Tiempo y Forma, vol. 6, edited by Diane Bodart, Madrid: Facultad de Geografía e Historia, UNED, 2018, pp. 89-118.

“Framing the Law: Joos de Damhouder and the Legal Iconology of the Grotesque”, in: The Art of Law: Artistic Representations and Iconography of Law and Justice, edited by Georges Martyn et al., Cham: Springer, 2018, pp. 223–244.

“Dialektik der Genauigkeit: Nicolaus Cusanus und Leon Battista Alberti”, in: Bilder der Präzision: Praktiken der Verfeinerung in Technik, Kunst und Wissenschaft, edited by Matthias Bruhn and Sara Hillnhütter, Berlin / Boston: De Gruyter, 2018, pp. 269–282.

(With Yasuhiro Sakamoto) “Shikou-Keitai to Bunka-Keisyhou to Shite no Imēji”, in: Shinkeikei JinbungakuShi-Sou1104, Tokyo: Iwanami, 2016, pp. 19–33.

“Sovereign Infamy: Grotesque Helmets, Masks of Shame and the Prehistory of Caricature”, in: Images of Shame: Infamy, Defamation and the Ethics of ‘oeconomia’, edited by Carolin Behrmann, Berlin / Boston: De Gruyter, 2015, pp. 169–192.

“Le XIXeSiècle vu au Travers de ses Crises”, in: Signes des Temps: Œuvres Visionnaires d’Avant 1914, Exhibition Catalogue, edited by Nikola Doll, Brussels: Racine, 2014, pp. 124–135.


“The Melancholic Eye: Grotesque Armor and the ‘Deformed’ Ruler in Mannerism”, Columbia University, New York, 11/2017.

“The Prince’s Prosthetic Body: Armor, Anatomy, and Art in the 16th Century”, University of Kyoto, 04/2016.

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