In recent decades scholars have focused their attention on a precise aspect of the Iberian expansion between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries: the vast circulation of overseas objects as “goods,” with the consequent enrichment of the European collections, the birth of the Wonder Cabinets etc. Beyond these physical movements of new items, from Peru, Brazil, India, New Spain, Sierra Leone, or the Philippines, however, another parallel and equally significant process took place: the production and circulation of texts documenting, describing and analyzing the diversity of these creations, the qualitative exceptionality of their creators ́ abilities, their mythologies, their material specificities, and their possible aesthetic, theological, or political links as well as their key role in the Iberian domination process itself.
These two movements between texts and images are intimately intertwined: as more items were being produced overseas, more texts were being devoted to their existence and production; then as more texts were being written, published, and read, more objects were being desired, commissioned, invented, and shipped. The seminar will explore the variety of these sources -‐variety of genres (chronicles, histories, inventories, grammars, dictionaries, legal or inquisitorial processes), variety of authorships (conquistadors, missionaries, ambassadors, travelers, visitadores, cronistas, naturalists, historians, collectors, artists) etc.-‐ in order to examine the relationship between textual and visual production in Early Modernity. The study of these unexpected “theories of the arts” will be continuously accompanied with the discussion of the actual artifacts commented in the sources. We will also consider if there are local specificities in the production of such texts: for instance, is the impressive amount of sources exclusively related to the “American” (New Spain, Brazil, Perú…) artistic processes understandable within a broader Iberian perspective or is there something specific in the observation and examination of the “American” aesthetics?
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