Professor Stephanie Leitch has been awarded an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) 2018 Collaborative Research Fellowship for her research project The Epistemology of the Copy in Early Modern Travel Narratives, a collaboration with Elio Brancaforte and Lisa Voigt that will result in a coauthored book. Professor Brancaforte is a scholar of German and comparative literature at Tulane University; Professor Voigt is a scholar of Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American literature at The Ohio State University.
Their project explores the recycling of illustrations in printed travel accounts and the role these images played in the circulation of knowledge about the world. In order to illustrate accounts of peoples and places never before seen, early modern European printers often resorted to repeating images from other presses and earlier texts. While scholarship has traditionally dismissed copied illustrations as inferior, derivative, or arbitrary, this book will explore their epistemological function, particularly in shaping stereotypical perceptions of the non-European world.
The project combines Professor Brancaforte’s research on European travel accounts to Safavid Iran and Azerbaijan; Professor Leitch’s work on visual culture and ethnography in German prints of Africa, Asia, and the Americas; and Professor Voigt’s research on accounts of travel, shipwreck, and captivity in the Atlantic world. The scholars’ multidisciplinary expertise will allow them to trace the spread of stereotypes across national and linguistic borders, and the relation these images had to European imperialism, commercialism, and colonialism. The fellowship will be in effect from May 2019 through April 2021.