A New World of Animals: Early Modern Europeans on the Creatures of Iberian America, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

A New World of Animals

Early Modern Europeans on the Creatures of Iberian America, 1st Edition

By Miguel de Asúa, Roger French


276 pages

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Hardback: 9780754607793
pub: 2005-08-28
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Many Early Modern Europeans who during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries travelled to the New World left written or pictorial records of their encounters with a surprising fauna. The story told in this book is woven out of the threads of those texts and pictures. A New World of Animals shows how the initial wonder at the new beasts gave way to a more utilitarian approach, assessing their economic and medical potential. It elucidates how shifts in European perceptions brought the animals from the realm of the fantastic into the mainstream of early modern natural history, while at the same time changing the way in which Europeans saw their own world. Indeed, the chronicles and treatises of those who in the wake of the discovery arrived in the new lands tell as much about the particular interests and mental worlds of the writers as about the 'new animals'. This book traces the amazement of the first explorers and colonizers, the chronicles of soldiers and Indians, the 'natural histories of the New World', the place of animals in the network of economic interests driving the early expansion of Europe, the views of the missionaries and those of natural philosophers and physicians. Taking the reader from the Brazilian forests to the erudite cabinets of the Old World, from Patagonia to the centres of empire, the story of the discovery of the unexpected menagerie of the New World is also an exploration of Early Modern European imagination and learning.


'This is a thorough, encyclopedic study of dozens of authors who are appropriately and lovingly located in their historical, intellectual, and cultural contexts. It deserve wide readership.' Journal of the History of Biology 'This study is engaging, informative, and offers a nuanced contextualization of the transmission of knowledge about Iberian America to contemporary Europeans… This work deserves a place in the required reading for any course that seeks to understand better the impact of the Americas on the early modern world.' Itinerario ’A New World of Animals is a fascinating study of one aspect of the centuries-long encounter between the Old World and the Americas. It is a well-researched and well-organized study with a plethora of interesting vignettes…Anyone interested in the history of exploration, sciences, and ideas in the early modern period will want to read this book.’ Sixteenth Century Journal ’…carefully researched, clearly written, and includes a valuable primary source bibliography of many of the most important early modern European texts dealing with Iberian American nature… In its careful attention to detail and exhaustive sources, this work is a valuable contribution to the history of science and the history of the Americas.’ Medical History

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; The unexpected menagerie of the New World; Soldiers and Amerindians; The new histories of the New World; Joyful and profitable news from the New World. Animals, medicine and commerce; Learned missionaries and Jesuit scholars; New World animals and shifting conceptions of natural history; Conclusions; Bibliography; Index.

About the Authors

Miguel de Asúa is Professor at the Universidad Nacional de San Martin and member of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Argentina. Dr Roger French was formerly in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University, UK.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General