Clio's crown of laurel denotes glory and eternal life. Her trumpet signifies fame. The thirst for fame was considered a fundamental stimulus to artistic production. By placing Clio at the center of his allegory, Vermeer emphasizes the importance of history to the visual arts. Theorists argued that the highest form of artistic expression was history painting which comprised biblical, mythological, historical and allegorical subjects. Curiously, Vermeer himself practiced true history paintings only at the outset of his career. By placing this allegory in a contemporary setting, he may have wished to prove that the lofty values of history painting could also be achieved when represented in modern settings. In any case, The Art of Painting demonstrates that Vermeer was aware of the major artistic debates which circulated among the cultural elite of the time.
A number of essays look to radio’s current role in creating listening communities that radically shift the nature of the public sphere. Essays on the genre of the talk show in
Ghana, Kenya and South Africa point to radio’s role in creating a robust public sphere. Radio’s central role in the emergence of informed publics in fragile national spaces is covered in essays on the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. The book also highlights radio’s links to the new media, its role in resistance to oppressive regimes
such as Zimbabwe, and points in several cases – for example in the essay on Uganda – to the importance of African languages in building modern communities that embrace both local and global knowledge.