Robert Batchelor, Georgia Southern University
Maps Redrawn: The Enlightenment Translations of Japanese Castaways
There is a partially-fictionalized story told by Bruno Latour about a map in the sand made by “Chinese natives” (actually Ainu) shown to the French explorer Lapérouse on Sakhalin Island in 1787. In its first telling [“Visualization and Cognition” (1986, first given 1983)], Latour used the anecdote to suggest that the power of flat images to be mobilized, modified, reproduced, recombined and ultimately merged with mathematics. The idea was to reframe the history of science so that the temporal distinction of modernity or even the Eisenstein account of printing as an agent of change became less important than the longue durée distinction between Europe, which could mobilize and abstract multiple images into a “cascade,” and China, which because of its “ideograms” could not. As a way of rethinking this encounter over maps in the North Pacific, I focus attention on two kinds of printed Japanese maps composed in the 1680’s by Ishikawa Ryusen (石川流宣), which circulated widely in a number of manuscript and re-printed formats in Russia and Europe during the Enlightenment. While not reconstituting the kind of mapping done by the Ainu in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Japanese maps from the period indicate a broader and more transcultural field of mapping than has been previously recognized. By analysing the ways those maps were read in London, Paris, St. Petersburg and Irkutsk during both the 1730’s and 1780’s, two important periods in the redefinition of the North Pacific in the eighteenth century, the paper suggests that what Michael Bravo has called the “geographic gift” had important and multi-polar impacts beyond the binary moment of encounter.
One largely unnoticed characteristic of Ryusen’s maps, composed during a kind of golden age of Japanese printing, is that he put forward a relational and topological model of both Japan and the world that was sensitive to historical change. The paper specifically addresses the tension and slippage between temporal and spatial readings of Ryusen’s work, particularly how reinscription of the maps often brought out elements related to Japan’s northern frontiers and relations with the Ainu that are difficult to see in the printed versions from the 1680’s. The special role in these cases of two groups of Japanese castaways as mediators in mapping, part of Ryusen’s ‘merchant commoner’ audience described by Marcia Yonemoto, suggests both the familiarity of average Japanese sailors and more elite ship captains with the legacy of Ryusen’s geographies and the ways that a broader cartographic literacy became important to translation in the Enlightenment on a global scale. The paper puts forward a more critical notion of temporality based on material inscriptions coupled with a more open-ended understanding of the Enlightenment as not restricted to Europe to challenge the sharp contrast between local knowledge and global capitalization (“centers of calculation”) that is often reconstituted in the literature on the subject of cartographic visualization.
Michael Gaudio, University of Minnesota
Hearing Print: Jean de Léry, Theodor de Bry, and the Sound of a Tupinambá Dance
My paper offers a close reading of an engraving by Theodor de Bry published in 1592 in the third volume of his widely popular, multi-volume publication entitled America. The third volume treats Jean de Léry’s account of his experience among the Tupinambá Indians of Brazil, and the particular engraving displays a dance witnessed by Léry himself in which Tupinambá men gather inside a hut, sing, and shake their sacred, “speaking” maracas. Léry is both horrified and ravished by the experience: horrified by the false speech of savage idols, but ravished by the beautiful chant of the Tupinambá. Indeed, de Bry’s print seeks to convey the sound of that chant, not only through the details of the engraving and its composition, but through the inclusion of the chant in musical staff notation below the engraving. In short, the engraving, and the book more generally, is not unlike the Tupinambá’s maraca, as de Bry shakes it before his reader in order to make the New World speak. My paper will thus consider the materiality of print insofar as it serves as a device for sounding out difference in the context of cultural encounter in the sixteenth century.
Seth Kimmel, Columbia University
Between Bibliography and Cartography in the Early Modern Mediterranean
Focused on the early sixteenth-century mapmaker and book collector Ferdinand Columbus, the illegitimate second son of the famous explorer Christopher Columbus, my paper argues that the dynamic conventions of cartography and bibliography in the early modern Mediterranean were mutually determined. Hernando Colón, as Ferdinand was known in Spanish, organized and indexed his enormous collection of books by importing methods cultivated as a royal cartographer; he likewise synthesized topographical information by employing the tricks of the bibliographer. Underlying these two endeavors was a deep-seated anxiety concerning the limits of knowledge about both nature and human inquiry. I seek to understand Colón’s scholarly methods by studying his archive of indexes, marginal commentary, and published texts, and to place those methods within early modern accounts of the fantasy and limits of universalism. To study this universalism in its imperial, epistemological, and evangelical dimensions is to conceive of the library as a tool and metaphor for memory. It is to parse the late medieval Italian and Spanish paradigms that sixteenth-century memory theorists and collectors of books and visual culture employed to organize the world’s knowledge, and it is to explore the many points of cartographic and bibliographic cross-fertilization between European and Maghribi intellectuals. Of course, the fantasy of universalism and the anxiety of information overload are two poles of a tension that remains with us today. Digital storage and big data replicate the issues that concerned both producers and consumers of texts and maps in the age of the early printed book. In this way, Colón and his contemporaries’ efforts can serve as a warning about seeking to know all that there is to know in the late modern as well as the early modern world.
Ivan Lupić, Stanford University
The Mobile Queen: Observing Hecuba in Renaissance Europe
Recent scholarship has recognized the importance of Greek drama, particularly Euripides, for the development of early modern tragedy. This recognition is increasingly registered even in the studies of the English Renaissance, traditionally dominated by the narrative of almost exclusively Senecan influence. In these traditional narratives, insufficient attention was paid to the agency of print and to the dissemination of many editions that would have made Greek drama available both in the original and, often, in various Latin and vernacular translations. My contribution to “The Agents of Contact” symposium extends this recent scholarly interest by considering a mid sixteenth-century adaptation of Euripides’ Hecuba by the Croatian playwright Marin Držić (c. 1508-1567). His Hecuba, first performed in Ragusa in 1559, was not published in print until the nineteenth century, but its early circulation shows how the media of print and manuscript interacted within the cultural community of the Ragusan Republic to ensure an active participation of this city state in the cultural moment of the European Renaissance.
Dániel Margócsy, CUNY Hunter College
The Mythopoesis of Circulation: Natural History and Orangutans in the Early Modern World
This talk examines how European natural historians theorized about the long-distance circulation of knowledge in the period between 1500 and 1900. This talk is therefore an attempt to understand how naturalists themselves reflected on the difficulties of circulation, and not a 21st-century interpretation of what these actual difficulties were. In my case study, I focus on the figure of the satyr, the Greek mythological creature that, from the 17th-century onwards, was widely identified with orangutans in Borneo and Java, and then, in the aftermath of Darwinian theory, with prehistoric humans. Yet how did European naturalists explain that Greek myth could provide valid information, factual evidence about East Asian species, and/or about prehistoric events? As I explain, they argued that the oral genre of myth was an especially powerful agent of contact that could travel long, physical and temporal, distances. While factual information, printed materials, and physical objects broke down as they traveled from one place to another, the fluid qualities of myth made it the bearer of information across deserts, oceans, and numerous centuries. The task of the naturalist was therefore to distill factual information from myth, and an expertise in natural history required a training in poetics.
Barbara E. Mundy, Fordham University
The indigenous culture of the book, New Spain, 16th century
In Elizabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, she describes the fragile chain of transmission of classical texts before the era of printing, whereby singular and often widely-scattered texts were subject to error and corruption through the hand copying process. In contrast, after the advent of the printing press, “the sequence of corrupted copies was replaced by a sequence of improved editions” (106). Having access to a range of printed text to compare destabilized ideas passed down from the past: “the transmission of received authority could not proceed smoothly once Arabists were set against Galenists or Aristotelians against Ptolemaists” (74-75). In addition, the availability of printed texts on a huge range of subjects allowed autodidacts to thrive, and the accessibility of the press allowed self-promoters to flower.
But what about on the other side of the Atlantic, in the New World? How did the arrival of printing shape attitudes towards received authority? How did it impact the roles of the “reading public” and the “listening public”? In this paper, I turn to the indigenous communities in New Spain, particularly in Mexico City, one of the largest indigenous cities in the New World during the 16th century, to examine their responses to the printed book, a novel import that followed conquest. Setting indigenous images of the European book alongside the production of Mexico City’s presses will allow me to argue that, within the indigenous ambit, the written word was slow to dislodge the spoken one, and that local printed products, rather than usurping the spoken word, served to emphasize the oral over the textual. The case of books in Mexico City disrupts the conventional progressivist historical narrative in Europe (where printed text replaced the oral), and I will conclude by looking at the social dynamics of the sixteenth century city, particularly the relations between indigenous elites and commoners, and between evangelizing friars and their congregants, to explore the special status of the book in the New World.
Jane Raisch, UC Berkeley
“First of all bookes:” Musaeus on the borders of early modern Hellenism
Mistakenly believed to be the first poet of Greece, the Byzantine author Musaeus became, in certain ways, the first poet of early modern Hellenism. Hailed by George Chapman as “the first of all bookes,” Musaeus’ epyllion, Hero and Leander, was the first Greek literary work printed by the Aldine press. The press, itself a pioneer in Greek printing, likewise designed its first woodcut illustrations to accompany Musaeus’ poem and innovatively experimented with the inclusion of an interleaved, facing, Latin translation that became a standard textual accompaniment in the centuries that followed. Both ur- and mini-epic, Musaeus’ short and linguistically accessible epyllion was ideally suited to introduce schoolboys and burgeoning Hellenophiles to the literature and language of Greek antiquity.
The very qualities, however, that made Hero and Leander such an appealing introductory Greek text – its reformulation of familiar epic and erotic topoi, the simplicity of its Greek, its concise narrative scope – were also the ones that marked it as a distinctly belated Greek poetic project. My paper thus considers the reception of Musaeus’ Hero and Leander within the larger context of Greek cultural reconstruction in early modernity, proposing that the divergence between Musaeus’ mytho-poetic, pre-Homeric identity and his postclassical, Byzantine identity speaks to competing early modern conceptions of what constitutes “Greekness:” originary or belated, Western or Eastern, familiar or foreign.
I propose that early modern print is at the center of these questions of cultural contact and reconstitution, linking the antiquity of Greek with the innovation of new media so as to map the mythological origins of Greek poetry onto the historical origins of print. My paper explores the materiality of Musaeus’ inaugural status in early modern Hellenism, attending particularly to how the destabilization of the chronological, geographic, and cultural boundaries of Greek plays out in the print and translation history of Musaeus’ poem. I suggest that the poem’s printers, editors, and translators amplified its preoccupation with establishing and transgressing cultural boundaries, connecting the textual borders of print to the conceptual limits of cultural recovery.
Set on the Hellespont, famed border between East and West, Hero and Leander depicts the ultimately doomed back-and-forth negotiation between two lovers across this cultural and geographic divide. The poem thus crystalizes early modern concerns about establishing the ethno-cultural origins of Greek, which similarly, and problematically, straddled eastern and western intellectual, religious, and political allegiances. The Aldine facing Latin translation encourages a similar movement between the boundaries of language, taking the reader back and forth between two forms of ancient classical speech – and two forms of accessing an ancient text. This sense of linguistic and textual alternation is carried over into later, vernacular translations: George Chapman’s 1616 English translation, for instance, structures its commentary around a comparative analysis of the Greek and Latin, declaring itself, and by extension English Hellenism, as indebted to the print innovations of Aldine “originals.”
Dagmar Riedel, Columbia University
Concepts of Antiquarianism and the Exchange of Books with the Middle East
On 3 January 1608, the Safavid ruler Shah ʿAbbās I (r. 1588–1629) received in Isfahan from the envoys of Pope Clement VIII (1592–1605) several books as diplomatic gifts. Among these were Arabic books recently printed by the Typographia Medicea in Rome, as well as the so-called Crusader Bible, a picture bible whose production is ascribed to mid-thirteenth-century France (Morgan Library MS M.638). The art historians Sussan Babie, Vera Bash Moreen, and M. Shreve Simpson have noted, with some surprise, that the picture bible did not have any impact on Safavid book production, even though Persian and Judeo-Persian marginal notes indicate that the image cycle of Old Testament stories was closely examined by readers in Iran. Against this background, I will explore notions of value and fashion with regard to the appreciation of “foreign” books in early modern Europe and the Middle East.
Marjorie Rubright , University of Toronto
Ground-works: Lexicography, Geology, Globalization
Early modern lexicography was a world-making enterprise. While expansive in its appetite for ever more diverse languages, it simultaneously circumscribed and delineated Europe’s mother tongues. Throughout the Renaissance, the linguistic variety that lexicographic reference works showcased took a number of experimental visual forms. Europe’s best-selling dictionary, Noël de Berlaimont’s Colloquia et Dictionariolum, which averaged one edition each year between 1550-1650, staged linguistic variation across a series of parallel columns, expanding from its initial bilingual Flemish-French vocabulary to include eight languages across facing pages. What, more than the matter of words, was being conveyed by the mise-en-page of lexicographic works like these? This paper explores the ways dictionaries and polyglot wordbooks were shaping stories of human sameness and difference in the age of the rise of Europe’s vernaculars. Taking a counter-intuitive approach, I explore early modern lexicography without language in order to consider how the mise-en-page of these experimentally organized reference works raised questions about the interrelation of human and lexical migration, as well as categories of race, nation, ethnicity, and kind. In the second part of the paper, I take up the persistent metaphors of ‘ground’ and ‘world’ that appear in many dictionary titles to consider how Renaissance lexical culture was newly imagining the globe and globalization. For antiquarians like Richard Verstegan, the ways of thinking about language conveyed on the pages of polyglot wordbooks provided conditions of possibility for thinking about the history of the earth itself.
Benjamin Schmidt, University of Washington
Exotic Pleasures: Geography, Material Arts, and the ‘Agreeable’ World”
This chapter derives from my new book, Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe’s Early Modern World (2015). It explores the productive affiliations between exotic geography—broadly conceived to encompass multiple forms of textual, visual, and material engagements with the (in this case) non‐European world—and the material arts. At the heart of the chapter lies an analysis of exotic icons and stereotypes, which moved easily and effectively among genres, transferring also from two‐dimensional, graphic arts (cartography, prints, book illustrations, etc.) to three‐dimensional, so‐called decorative arts (ceramics, textiles, furniture, etc.). Exotic imagery produced in this period had a distinctive look, style, and form that lent itself to material arts. More generally, exotic geography was perceived as somehow “decorative” and, just like the decorative arts, was understood to impart “pleasure.” These themes point to the impressive ways that exotic geography ultimately functioned against its putative purpose: it was, ironically, an indistinct discipline, an imprecise science, and a mode of description that effectively disordered and decentered the world. Exotic geography of this moment endeavored to formulate an “agreeable” world. In analyzing the workings of exotic geography, this chapter invokes inter alia the concepts of iconic circuits (adopted from Craig Clunas’s work on Ming visual culture) and transmediations. The latter serves to elucidate how images could move not only across print genres, but also among decorative media; and to explain how Europeans could develop—to take a striking example—”decorative torture,” a mode of design that flourished at the turn of the eighteenth century.
Although I am inflicting you with a fairly lengthy chapter—apologies!—it is larded with pretty pictures (ca. 70), and this should make the pages turn more quickly. To those of you who are pressed for time and cannot read the entire chapter, I might suggest skimming the subsection “Imperfect Chaos.” To those of you who do manage to read the whole thing: god bless! In all cases, I very much look forward to our discussion at the workshop.
Liza Strakhov, Marquette U
‘Englisshed… in the best wyse’: John Shirley’s Treatment of English in Cambridge, Trinity College, R.3.20
The early fifteenth century saw the English trounce the French repeatedly on the latters’ own soil. Translatio imperii merged with translatio studii when John of Bedford seized Charles VI’s royal library and brought many of its volumes back to England in a move that showcased the hunger of the English for French cultural products, even as it demonstrated English military supremacy. Yet this same period, steeped as it was in French literature, also saw Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgate emphasizing Chaucer’s centrality to the emergence of a new and strictly English literary tradition. This paper explores this complicated cultural moment by examining the bibliophile John Shirley’s trilingual anthology, Cambridge, Trinity College R.3.20, compiled in the early 1430s. This manuscript is primarily famous for its role in the fifteenth-century canonization of Chaucer: many of Chaucer’s shorter lyrics are ascribed to him on the basis of this compilation, and it was later owned by the sixteenth-century antiquarian John Stow, who relied on it in his Collected Works edition of Chaucer. As a result, the compilation’s Chaucer-related pieces have largely dominated scholarship on this manuscript.
I propose a closer look at the meticulous way in which Shirley juxtaposes English pieces by Chaucer as well as John Lydgate with contemporary Continental work in the manuscript. Through carefully worded rubrics, meticulous ordinatio, and repeated characterizations of English pieces as “translations”, Shirley presents his English texts in continual dialogue and productive counterpoint with contemporary Latin and French literature. Shirley’s treatment of the English items in his compilation paints a decidedly non-insular image of English literary culture as emerging into a distinct cultural force precisely because of and through its repeated negotiations with literature on the Continent. I thus suggest that Shirley’s inclusion of non-English material do not simply frame his emphasis on Chaucer but, indeed, constitute it. For Shirley, I will argue, English is a literary language not because it is distant from contemporary Continental productions, but, rather, because it is inextricably connected to them. It is, moreover, those connections that, to Shirley, afford English its immense power and literary value.