Nina Pongracz

History of Design

Fish Almanac for the Year 1568, Switzerland


Title of Dissertation: Fish and Fishing in the Material Culture of Lower Lake Constance and the Upper Rhine Between 1500 and 1650

The objects and visual culture bearing fish in the region of lower Lake Constance and the Upper Rhine give insight into the relationship that humans had to fish during the early modern period and how this affected the design of material wares. Craft and natural historical knowledge about fish was disseminated through an encyclopaedia of ichthyology, as well as craft manuals and broadside ballads. Not only found referenced in the fisherman’s vast array of tools and paraphernalia, fish were also a central part of everyday life, in the form of almanacs, stuccos and stained- glass windows. These objects showed how a variety of different types of knowledge about fish, including Christian humanist, natural historical and craft-related ideas, were circulating and travelling from their origins into settings as distant as the domestic realm. The objects bearing fish in the region of Schaffhausen and Constance have shown to be highly multifaceted, relating to a number of different cultural contexts. The material culture of fish has allowed for an unusual approach to major early modern developments, such as scientific advancements, the Reformation, or cross- cultural relations between borders and groups of individuals. Using fish and fishing as a lens has offered an alternative insight into these developments, while presenting the opportunity to learn about objects and material wares bearing fish from the area of lower Lake Constance and the Upper Rhine from 1500 to 1650.

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BA, English Literature, Queen Mary, University of London, 2010


Columnist, unmakingthings.com, London, 2011 to present; Journalist (newspaper), Schaffhauser Nachrichten, Schaffhausen, Switzerland, 2009; Journalist (radio), Radio Munot, Schaffhausen, Switzerland, 2009