Emissaries in Early Modern Literature and Culture: Mediation, Transmission, Traffic, 1550–1700, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Emissaries in Early Modern Literature and Culture

Mediation, Transmission, Traffic, 1550–1700, 1st Edition

By Gitanjali Shahani

Edited by Brinda Charry


278 pages

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With its emphasis on early modern emissaries and their role in England's expansionary ventures and cross-cultural encounters across the globe, this collection of essays takes the messenger figure as a focal point for the discussion of transnational exchange and intercourse in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It sees the emissary as embodying the processes of representation and communication within the world of the text, itself an 'emissary' that strives to communicate and re-present certain perceptions of the 'real.' Drawing attention to the limits and licenses of communication, the emissary is a reminder of the alien quality of foreign language and the symbolic power of performative gestures and rituals. Contributions to this collection examine different kinds of cross-cultural activities (e.g. diplomacy, trade, translation, espionage, missionary endeavors) in different world areas (e.g. Asia, the Mediterranean, the Levant, the New World) via different critical methods and approaches. They take up the literary and cultural productions and representations of ambassadors, factors, traders, translators, spies, middlemen, merchants, missionaries, and other agents, who served as complex conduits for the global transport of goods, religious ideologies, and socio-cultural practices throughout the early modern period. Authors in the collection investigate the multiple ways in which the emissary became enmeshed in emerging discourses of racial, religious, gender, and class differences. They consider how the emissary's role might have contributed to an idealized progressive vision of a borderless world or, conversely, permeated and dissolved borders and boundaries between peoples only to further specific group interests.


’… Charry and Shahani's collection charts new ways of thinking about the legal, technological, linguistic, and mercantile frameworks that defined relations between states and peoples in what we might think of as the first wave of globalization.’ Clio '… the individual essays are generally of high quality and contain much interesting material… [A] valuable contribution to the current interest in cultural exchange and diversity.' Notes and Queries

About the Author/Editor

Brinda Charry is Assistant Professor of English at Keene State College, USA. Gitanjali Shahani is Assistant Professor of English at San Francisco State University, USA.

About the Series

Transculturalisms, 1400-1700

This series presents studies of the early modern contacts and exchanges among the states, polities and entrepreneurial organizations of Europe; Asia, including the Levant and East India/Indies; Africa; and the Americas. Books investigate travellers, merchants and cultural inventors, including explorers, mapmakers, artists and writers, as they operated in political, mercantile, sexual and linguistic economies. We encourage authors to reflect on their own methodologies in relation to issues and theories relevant to the study of transculturism/translation and transnationalism. We are particularly interested in work on and from the perspective of the Asians, Africans, and Americans involved in these interactions, and on such topics as:

-Material exchanges, including textiles, paper and printing, and technologies of knowledge

-Movements of bodies: embassies, voyagers, piracy, enslavement

-Travel writing: its purposes, practices, forms and effects on writing in other genres

-Belief systems: religions, philosophies, sciences

-Translations: verbal, artistic, philosophical

-Forms of transnational violence and its representations.

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