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Utopia/Dystopia: European Images and Representations of the


Waldseem ller s large world map included data gathered during Amerigo Vespucci s voyages of 1501 1502 to the New World. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Utopia/Dystopia: European Images and Representations of the

Utopia/Dystopia European Images and
Representations of the New World
  • Edward Hicks (1780-1849), The Peaceable
    Kingdom. Westervelt-Warner Museum of American
    Art. Tuscaloosa, AL. http//www.warnermuseum.org/

Discovery, Colonization, and the Written Word
  • Intersection between writingespecially
    printingand the representation, imagination, and
    conquest of the New World
  • First printed book, the Gutenberg Bible, came
    only 30 years before Columbus landed in America
  • Writing and other media of representation
    participated in the construction and thus the
    appropriation of America
  • How do experiences fit into existing European
    world view? What hopes, expectations, and fears
    are being projected onto the New World?

America as Utopia/Dystopia
  • What remedies does America offer to European
    maladies (overpopulation, moral disintegration,
    autocratic political structures)?
  • How do American discoveries reflect on European
  • What kind of template does America offer for the
    renewal or development of European
  • What is the significance of travel to
    faraway/unknown lands affirmation of self or
    challenge of self?
  • Does America offer a threat or an opportunity to
    European society?

America and the Dreams (and Nightmares) of
Western Civilization
  • Insertion of America into Events and Predictions
    of Biblical History
  • The Creation
  • Mono-genesis or poly-genesis of Native American
  • The Earthly Paradise
  • Is the Garden of Eden or Earthly Paradise still
    extant on Earth?
  • The New Jerusalem
  • Will Christ rebuild Jerusalem on earth, possibly
    during his 1000-year rule (the Millennium)?
  • The Apocalypse and the Millennium
  • Pre and Post-Millennialism

Visions of the Old World Cartography

Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514), Liber Chronicarum
Nuremberg Anton Koberger, 1493.
ltwww.folger.edu.The Last Pre-Columbian Map of
the World
  • The Liber Chronicarum or Nuremberg Chronicle is
    Schedel's illustrated history of the world from
    Genesis to 1493.
  • Schedel uses this Ptolemaic style map to
    illustrate the second of the six ages of the
  • The first age of the world began with the
    Creation, the second with Noah, the sixth with
    the birth of Christ. Here Noah's sons Shem,
    Japheth, and Ham display their inheritance Asia,
    Europe, and Africa, respectively.
  • Jerusalem is at the center of the known world,
    and the monsters that were described as
    inhabiting the outskirts of the world in medieval
    travel tales are depicted in the margins.
    Ptolemy's Geographia, which summed up nearly
    six centuries of Greek geographical knowledge,
    was written in the second century A.D. and then
    was virtually forgotten until its rediscovery in
    the fourteenth century. It was first printed in
    1475 without maps.
  • In 1477, only fifteen years before Columbus's
    first voyage, it was printed with maps similar to
    this one in Schedel's Chronicle. Though Schedel
    knew of Columbus's voyage, his map reflects
    Ptolemy's understanding of the world as three
    continents separated by a vast ocean from the
    west coast of Europe to the east coast of Asia.

Martin Waldseemüllers Map of the World (1507)
  • Martin Waldseemüllers 1507 map documented and
    updated new geographic knowledge derived from the
    discoveries of the late fifteenth and the first
    years of the sixteenth centuries.
  • Waldseemüllers large world map included data
    gathered during Amerigo Vespuccis voyages of
    15011502 to the New World.
  • Waldseemüller christened the new lands "America"
    in recognition of Vespucci s understanding that
    a new continent had been uncovered as a result of
    the voyages of Columbus and other explorers in
    the late fifteenth century.

Hernando Cortés, Praeclara Ferdinandi Cortesii
de nova maris oceani Hyspania narratio...
Nuremberg F. Peypus, 1524. (attributed to
Albrecht Dürer) (source Jay I. Kislak
Foundation, Cultural Readings Colonization and
Print in the Americas lthttp//www.library.upenn.ed
u/exhibits/rbm/kislak/promotion/cortes2.html gt
  • Tenochtitlan was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521
  • Cortés built Mexico City on its ruins.
  • Map shows the city before its destruction, with
    the principal Aztec temples in the main square,
    causeways connecting the city to the mainland,
    and an aqueduct supplying fresh water.
  • Much of the information on this map must have
    come from Aztec sources - as did a great deal of
    the intelligence Cortés relied upon in his
  • This map circulated in numerous histories of the
    New World.
  • (CULTURAL READINGS Colonization Print in the
    Americas lthttp//www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/rb

Ambrosius Holbein, woodcut map of Utopia (1518).
Visions of the New World
  • The People/The Other
  • Ancient Theories of Non-Western Peoples
  • Roman scholar Pliny and his portrayal of
    monstrous races who inhabited the rim of the
    world (men with heads of dogs, men win their
    heads beneath their shoulders, men with one large
    foot under whose shade they rested in the desert

(No Transcript)
Ancient Theories of Non-Western Peoples
  • Herodotus, History (425 B.C.)
  • Account of the Scythians, a people living on the
    northern shore of the Black Sea
  • Said to have taken possession of a deserted
    land far to the East
  • Later believed to be the ancestors of Native
  • Scythians also said to have merged with the
    Amazons, which were searched for in the Americas

Ancient Theories of Non-Western Peoples
  • Barbarians and Noble Savages
  • In ancient Greece, all non-Greek peoples,
    identified by their beards
  • Lower culture, religion, intellect, and social
  • Tacituss Germania praising Germans of Roman
    times as noble savages

Other Contexts of European Encounters with
  • Reconquista and struggle against Moors
  • Crusades
  • Expulsion of the Jews from Spain
  • Struggle against Ottoman Turks in Eastern
    Mediterranean and Eastern Europe
  • Colonization of Africa

Sir John Mandeville, Books of the Marvels of
the World.
  • Renaissance representations/imaginations

America/Americans and the History of Christian
Salvation (Eschatology)
  • The map of Christian Europe did not include
  • Question Was America and its inhabitants
    included in the Christian scheme of salvation?
    Did Indians have souls?
  • Columbus understanding himself as
    Christoferens or Christ-bearer
  • Four Voyages Jerusalem and Mount Sion are to be
    rebuilt by the hand of a Christian who this is
    to be, God declares by the mouth of His prophet
    . . . Psalm 147. Abbot Joachin said that hew
    was to come from Spain. St. Jerome showed the
    way of it to the holy lady. The emperor of
    Cathay China, some time since, sent for wise
    men to instruct him in the faith of Christ. Who
    will offer himself for this work? If Our Lord
    bring me back to Spain, I pledge myself, in the
    name of God, to bring him there in safety.
  • Ferdinand Columbus his father as Christ-bearer
    who carried the grace of the Holy Ghost to that
    New World . . . That the Indian nations might
    become dwellers in the triumphant Church of

America/Americans and the History of Christian
Salvation (Eschatology)
  • Thus Columbuss geography of salvation included
    the Indians because to him the West Indies were
    part of Eastern Asia and per consequence shared
    in the terrain of Christs earthly kingdom
  • C. believed to have found the earthly paradise at
    the summit of a mountain in the Orinoco River
  • Believed that there the globe was not spherical,
    but pear-shaped he interpreted the river as
    Gihon, the second river of Paradise (Gen.
  • Four Voyages all these features are great
    indications of the earthly paradise
  • thus in keeping with medieval tradition that God
    had removed the lost Paradise to India

America/Americans and the History of Christian
Salvation (Eschatology)
  • Jose de Acosta (Spanish Jesuit) The Natural and
    Moral History of the Indies (1604)
  • Satan had in former ages led several nations of
    Scythians to America over a land bridge in East
    Asia (now submerged)
  • They built temples to Satan in Mexico and other
    American regions
  • Here they remained out of the reach of
    Christianity until the arrival of Christian
    missionaries (such as himself)

America/Americans and the History of Christian
Salvation (Eschatology)
  • Joseph Mede (1586-1638) (English theologian)
  • America as the seat of hell, from which Satan's
    minions, Gog and Magog (Rev. 208-9) would arise
    at the end of the millennium to encompass the
    Saints of the terrestrial New Jerusalem
  • The nations seated outside of the terrestrial
    seat of the saints, (hence, the Indians) would
    be destroyed by fire from heaven

America/Americans and the History of Christian
Salvation (Eschatology)
  • In defense of European settlement of America,
    other theologians (e.g. Cotton Mather) argued
    that it was indeed part of Gods plan to wrest
    America out of the Hands of its old Land-lord,
    Satan, and give these utmost ends of the Earth to
    our Lord Jesus
  • Thus Puritans and other Christian peoples
    settling in America could interpret their
    presence as a preparation of the Second Coming of
  • Puritan presence, therefore, was an Errand into
    the Wilderness

Columbus and the Discovery of
America__________Christopher Columbus, De
insulis nuper in mari Indico repertis. Bound with
Carlo Verardi, In laudem...Ferdinandi
Hispaniarum regis... Basel Johann Bergmann de
Olpe, 1494.
Christopher Columbus, De insulis nuper in mari
Indico repertis. Bound with Carlo Verardi, In
laudem...Ferdinandi Hispaniarum regis... Basel
Johann Bergmann de Olpe, 1494.
Simon Grynaeus and Johann Huttich,Novis orbis
regionum ac insularum veteribus incognitarum.
Basle Johann Hervagius, 1532 detail from map.
Jean de Léry,Histoire d'un voyage fait en la
terre du Bresil, autrement dite Amerique...
Geneva For the heirs of Eustache Vignon, 1594.
Jan van der Straet and Theodor Galle (engraving),
America. Ca. 1580.
The Tears of the Indians Being an historical and
true account of the cruel massacres and
slaughters of above twenty millions of innocent
people committed by the Spaniards... London
J.C. for Nath. Brooke, 1656.
Visions of the New World
  • Mythological Places and Societies
  • El Dorado
  • Legend began in the 1530s, in the Andes of
    present-day Colombia
  • Conquistador Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada first
    found the Muisca
  • Story of the Muisca rituals was brought to Quito
    by Sebastian de Belalcazars men
  • Mixed with other rumors, arose the legend of El
    Dorado (meaning the golden man, rather than a
  • Ritual king, chief, or priest of the Muisca was
    covered in gold and plunge into a mountain lake
  • Legend turned from identification of a man to
    meaning a city, place, or state
  • Gave rise to countless expeditions
  • But all actual conquests, especially the
    conquest of the Aztec empire by Cortes and the
    Inca empire by the Pizarro brothers, were
    informed by the search for mythical gold

Mythological Places and Societies
  • Seven Cities of Cibola
  • Myth originated around the year 1150, when the
    Moors conquered the Spanish city of Merida
  • According to legend, seven bishops fled the city,
    not only to save their lives but also to prevent
    the Muslims from obtaining sacred religious
  • Years later, rumor circulated that that the
    bishops had founded seven cities of gold in a far
    away land
  • With the discover and conquest of America, the
    seven cities were believed to lie in America, and
    many expeditions tried to discover them
  • Thus intersection of material quest and
    religious mission

Bibliography and Further Reading
  • Cultural Readings Colonization Print in the
    Americas. University of Pennsylvania Libraries.
    ndex/cultural.html. August 20, 2007.
  • Franklin, Wayne. Discoverers, Explorers,
    Settlers The Diligent Writers of Early America.
    Chicago U of Chicago P, 1979.
  • Grafton, Anthony. New World, Ancient Texts The
    Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery.
    Cambridge, MA Beknap Press of Harvard UP, 1992.
  • Greenblatt, Stephen. Marvelous Possessions The
    Wonder of the New World. Chicago U of Chicago
    P, 1991.
  • ---. New World Encounters. Berkeley U of
    California P, 1993.
  • Hemming, John. The Search for El Dorado. New
    York E. P. Dutton, 1978.
  • Sale, Kirkpatrick. The Conquest of Paradise
    Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy.
    New York Plume, 1990.
  • Sanders, Ronald. Lost Tribes and Promised Lands
    The Origins of American Racism. Boston Little,
    Brown, 1978.
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