Visions from Afar, Visions from Nearby. Opening of the World and Close-seeing

Syllabus

Between the 15th and the 17th centuries the expansion projects –and in particular the Iberian ones – stimulated an unprecedented fertile tension between the distant and the close, in geographical, historical and visual terms. We will approach this novel aspect of the Early Modernity through a variety of primary sources and theoretical studies.

Between the 15th and the 17th centuries the expansion projects –and in particular the Iberian ones – stimulated an unprecedented fertile tension between the distant and the close, in geographical, historical and visual terms. Each session of this graduate seminar will be devoted to specific episodes – how to conceive the city of Tenochtitlan from Nuremberg? how to make a Jesuit mapamundi in Beijing? how to illustrate local plants and fruits in Mexico (Francisco Hernandez) or Goa (García da Orta)? how to transform into copper plates the pages of the chronicles describing remote places for an European public (De Bry’s enterprise)? We will also study a number of textual and visual documents explicitly conceived to cross the ocean (Diego Muñoz Camargo from Tlaxcala, Guaman Poma de Ayala from Lucanas, both authors’ textual and visual works aimed to reach Spain and to be potentially printed), or Bernardino de Sahagún’s encyclopedic project. From the construction of “global mythographies” in Las Casas, or Pignoria to the display of farness and the reconceptualization of Antiquity in XVIth century Lisbon, and Goa or in the Wunderkammern of Bologna, Naples, or Prague, we will investigate how between the 15th and 17th centuries, new ways of making both remoteness and proximity visible were used and invented, tools that range from new challenges of ekphrasis to precise optical techniques of capturing.

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Pre-Requisites

This graduate course is based on primary sources and secondary literature almost entirely written in Spanish and Portuguese. Spanish will be also largely present in the classroom, even though participation in English is also possible.

External Resources

A wikischolar site with readings and discussion board will be accessible to registered students.