Seeing Across Cultures in the Early Modern World: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Seeing Across Cultures in the Early Modern World

1st Edition

Edited by Dana Leibsohn, Jeanette Favrot Peterson


302 pages

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What were the possibilities and limits of vision in the early modern world? How did political expansion, cross-cultural trade, scientific exploration and discrete religious practices require new ways of rendering the unknown visible, and of making what was seen knowable? Drawing upon experiences forged in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, Seeing Across Cultures argues that distinctive ways of habituating the eyes in the early modern period had epistemic consequences: in the realm of politics, daily practice and the imaginary. The essays here consider prints and panoramas, sculpted works of stone and corn pith cane - and their physical presence in the lived world - calling attention to the materiality and sensuality of visual experience. Anchored in writings on art history and visual culture, Seeing Across Cultures also engages histories of transcultural encounters and vision.


'Ranging from viceregal Mexico to Akbar's India, the authors of this timely and diverse collection practice what theorists of early modern globalization have only lately preached: that the world was understood to be connected and mutually intelligible in the age of sail and gunpowder. There was plenty of wonder, mutual discovery, and violent misunderstanding, but the hard nationalist and regionalist divisions came later, and for too long they clouded scholars' vision of the early modern past. In addition to their efforts to reveal early modern worlds in their own terms, the authors offer new insights to scholars beyond art history both by rigorous comparisons and through re-examination of venerable theoretical models and disciplinary boundaries. It is sure to provoke considerable discussion, and likely some controversy.' Kris Lane, Tulane University, USA

'The latest entry from Ashgate in one of the most innovative and stimulating new art history publication series, 'Transculturalisms 1400-1700,' this collection of essays takes up the complex issue of what some scholars are calling 'visuality,' a conception of vision itself in a given culture… a fascinating collection…' Cassone

'The most important question these essays raise … especially from the perspective of early modern scholars not in the field of art history, is the problem of commensurability. Commensurability has become a central theme of early modern studies as the field has moved away from its European roots and become increasingly global. The study of encounters in the early modern world inevitably raises the question of how culture translates across racial, ethnic, and geographic divides, and this issue becomes more urgent as scholars abandon their Eurocentric focus and binary categories of European versus other�.' Sixteenth Century Journal '… thought-provoking …' Journal of Historical Geography

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction: geographies of sight, Dana Leibsohn; Part I Perspective and Mimesis: Perspective and its discontents or St Lucy's eyes, Yoriko Kobayashi-Sato and Mia M. Mochizuki; Perceiving blackness, envisioning power: Chalma and Black Christs in colonial Mexico, Jeanette Favrot Peterson; Competing and complementary visions of the court of the Great Mogor, Saleema Waraich. Part II Blindness and Memory: Visual knowledge/facing blindness, Bronwen Wilson; Blindness materialized: disease, decay, and restoration in the Napoleonic Description de l'Egypte (1809-1828), Liza Oliver; Gone: memory and visuality in early modern West Africa, Mark Hinchman. Part III Colonial Visualities: Without a face: voicing Moctezuma II's image at Chapultepec Park, Mexico City, Patrick Thomas Hajovsky; Markers: Le Moyne de Morgues in 16th-century Florida, Todd P. Olsen; Tourism, occupancy and visuality in North India, ca.1750-1858, Natasha Eaton. Part IV Seeing Across Time: Understanding visuality, Claire Farago; Index.

About the Editors

Dana Leibsohn is Priscilla Paine van der Poel Professor of Art History at Smith College, USA. Jeanette Favrot Peterson is an Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara, 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.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century