CPS Lecture: Stephanie Leitch

The Adjustable Feather Skirt in 16th-century Travel Narratives
Printed early modern coastal scene. Colonial soldiers in European armor receive gifts by indigenous community members in leaf skirts. A ship in the background.
Walter Ralegh and Dietrich De Bry, Achter Theil Americae, Darinnen Erstlich Beschrieben Wird Das Mächtige Und Goldtreiche Königreich Guiana Zu Norden Deß Grossen Flusses Orenoke. Entdecket u. Beschrieben Durch Herrn Walther Rhaleg. (Frankfurt: Becker, 1599)
Event Date & Time
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Event Location
Heller 1210

271 19th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Abstract: Sixteenth-century European fashion for native Americans featured feathered garments that were never staples in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican closets; they were entirely invented by the printing press. Even though the iconography of the feathered skirt seems fairly stable as it was transmitted through copies, to look at the skirt as the printer’s mistake, or a homogenously misunderstood accessory misses the richness of its history. The feathered skirt’s travels through the sartorial collections of peoples represented in early modern travel accounts reflects a changing discourse surrounding the people who wore them in print. As more information about extra-Europeans was transmitted to Europe via print, the skirt proved a perfect item on which to pin that data.

Bio: Stephanie Leitch is associate professor of Art History at Florida State University. A forthcoming volume, Sight-seeing: Visual Literacy and the Art of Observation in the early modern Print, investigates how woodcuts coached visual practices and contributed to the formalization of disciplinary sciences such as cosmography and physiognomy in early printed books. Her upcoming project, The Epistemology of the Copy in early modern Travel Narratives, a book she is co-writing with Lisa Voigt and Elio Brancaforte, interrogates the role of copied illustrations and printers’ complicity in shaping knowledge about places new to Europe. Her talk today comes from this project. Link to faculty page (webpage)

Access to Heller Hall is restricted at certain doors. Enter the building via Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the ground floor tunnels (from Wilson Library or Blegen Hall), or the second floor skyway from Blegen. If you have any questions or ever get lost, call the CPS office (612-625-6303).

This is a hybrid event. To register for the zoom webinar, select the registration button. 

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