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Benjamin Schmidt: Perpetual Rhinos, Everlasting Whales, Chronic Crocodiles: On the Lives of Exotic Images and their Knowledge

Detail Summary
Date 16 May 2013
Time 15:30 - 17:00
Amsterdam Centre for the Study of the Golden Age

This  paper sits at the crossroads of two current research projects, one on early modern European conceptions of the exotic world, the other on the movement of motifs and visual representations across varying media:  the transmediation of (in this case) exotic imagery.  In the lecture Benjamin Schmidt explores the ways images persist across media and time—some exotic motifs persevere for centuries—and how knowledge of (in this case) the non-European world endures and evolves as it is delivered in different media.  It considers how forms of visual knowledge persist, as well as the kind of knowledge that is conveyed in assorted media, particularly as images and motifs shift from traditional sources of geographic knowledge—texts, prints, maps—to those material objects that traditionally come under the rubric of "decorative" arts.  Schmidt is ultimately interested in how certain forms of knowledge "move"; in the narrative content of various material arts—the arguments of objects, as it were—and in the ideas and representations of the exotic world assembled and crafted by early modern Europeans.


Benjamin Schmidt teaches at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he is the Joff Hanauer Faculty Fellow and a Professor of History.  Schmidt specializes in early modern cultural and visual history, especially the history of European expansion and globalism; his forthcoming book, Inventing Exoticism:  Geography, Globalism, and Europe's Early Modern World, looks at the development of European 'exoticism' across several media.  His previous books include Innocence Abroad: The Dutch Imagination and the New World, 1570–1670 (Cambridge University Press, 2001), which won the Renaissance Society of America’s Gordan Prize and the Holland Society’s Hendricks Prize; The Discovery of Guiana by Sir Walter Ralegh (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007); Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe: Practices, Objects, and Texts, 1400–1800 (University of Chicago Press, 2008; with Pamela Smith); and Going Dutch: The Dutch Presence in America, 1609–2009 (Brill, 2008).  He is spending this semester as a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study.


Location: VOC-zaal, Bushuis, Kloveniersburgwal 48, Amsterdam