History ETDs

Author

Matthew Berch

Publication Date

9-9-2010

Abstract

The present study elucidates several of the key tropes and figures employed by a select group of French and European commentators and artists in their attempt to contextualize New World discovery. Utilizing travel narratives, voyager reports, and literary materials, this study traces a specific thematic genealogy from the late thirteenth century to the end of the Renaissance. Over a period of three hundred plus years, various European texts from Mandevilles Travels to The Tempest depicted European encounters with foreign bodies. While descriptions varied, certain recurring themes and tropes gradually developed as European explorers expanded the scope of their ethno-geographic inquiry. One particular episode—the failed French colonial experiment at Guanabara, Brazil—dramatically altered the evolution of European literary understandings of cultural difference. This study hopes to better situate this Franco-Brazilian encounter within a broader Renaissance cultural aesthetics. The writings of a series of French thinkers including André Thevet, Jean de Léry, and Michel de Montaigne, are examined here in order to both explore their thematic heritage and to access their intellectual impact.

Level of Degree

Masters

Degree Name

History

Department Name

History

First Advisor

Bieber, Judy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Gauderman, Kimberly

Second Committee Member

Hutchison, Elizabeth

Language

English

Document Type

Thesis

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