Skip to main content

Fall 2013 Seminar

Representing the Other in Image, Text, and Landscape

The Fall 2013 Newberry Seminar in the Humanities will focus on encounters between the “Old” World and the “New” World from the early-modern period to the 20th century.  Click here to see a course syllabus.  We will examine maps, literary and philosophical texts, images, as well as historical and anthropological records, as a means of discovering how the encounter with the “new world” became a transformative force that would leave the Old World forever tormented by the haunting specter of the “other” just as it had dramatic, and often shattering consequences for indigenous peoples.

Nahuatl glyph map of Aztec migration

Frédéric de Waldeck, Nahuatl glyph map of Aztec migration from Aztlan to Tenochtitlán. Ayer Art Waldeck E1 #21. Courtesy of the Newberry Library.
Click here for a larger image.

Together we will consider such questions as: How did this new world, this new paradise, come to be transformed?  How did Europeans and indigenous American groups view each other at first and over time?  What were the long-term environmental and cultural changes wrought from these repeated encounters as Old World met New World?  How did European thinkers deploy this vision of otherness in particular forms of cultural representation?  What was the response from indigenous communities?  How did the notion of the other change with the arrival of African peoples into the Americas?

In the first half of the semester students will study texts relevant to this topic, as they also become familiar with methods of conducting research in general and working in the Newberry Library specifically.  In the second half of the semester students will conduct their own research, and create their own document of their findings, drawing on the rich resources the Newberry Library has to offer.

Throughout the semester faculty and students will work closely together in the process of framing a topic of investigation, conducting research, and creating scholarly texts that can share our discoveries with a wider audience.

Map from Sir Frances Drake voyage

“S. Domingo,” in Walter Bigges, A Summarie and True Discourse of Sir Frances Drakes West Indian Voyage. Ayer 116. D8 B5 1588. Courtesy of the Newberry Library. Click here for larger image.

The Newberry’s resources

Participants in the Fall 2013 Seminar will find the Newberry Library’s collection to be a vast and stimulating resource for exploring encounters between the Old and New Worlds.

The Library’s huge collection of maps will interest students working in a number of areas beyond geography itself.  We might wish to consider how Europeans chose to represent the Americas, what they put in, left out, invented and imagined.  These maps are also aesthetic objects in themselves—artistic encounters, if you will, with the New World.

The Hermon Dunlop Smith Center also offers specific support for the study of cartography and the amazing map collections the Newberry holds.

The Edward E. Ayer Collection is one the best collections focused on Native Americans and indigenous peoples in the world.  Scholars from across the globe, who are interested in history and representations of Native Americans, come to the Newberry to take advantage of this collection.


William Davis

Colorado College

Comparative Literature & German


Eric Perramond

Colorado College

Environmental Science & Southwest Studies