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Bodies and Maps: Personification of the Continents

Friday, Jan 12, 2018 - Saturday, Jan 13, 2018

Personifications of the continents of Europe, Africa, Asia, and America abounded in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe. The continents, depicted as female (and sometimes male) figures, appeared in political processions, court performances, ceiling and wall frescos, maps, atlases, frontispieces, poems, travelogues, costume books, prints, paintings, textiles, ceramics, sculptures, wood pulpits, and sculptured tympanums. While the rise in the popularity of these images in the early modern period may well have been related to encounters in the Americas, which increased the number of continents in the European imagination beyond the Ptolemaic three, the tradition of personifying the continents extends back to the early middle ages and has continued to the present day. Throughout the history of this tradition, the number of continents has changed along with their human representations to reflect and reinforce ideas of both self and other.

This conference, organized by CMRS Associate and Occidental College Professor of History Maryanne Horowitz, brings historians together with art historians, historians of cartography, and literary scholars to explore the full range of the phenomena of continent personifications and their variant significance for cultural history.

Advance registration is requested. Please click here to complete the short registration form.

No fee. Limited seating. Self-pay parking in lots 2, 3, and 4. Parking information at https://main.transportation.ucla.edu/campus-parking/visitors

Funding for this symposium is provided by the Endowment for the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Image courtesy of Special Collections,Occidental College.


Friday, January 12, 2018 | UCLA Royce Hall Room 314
9:15 Coffee and light refreshments
Slide-show of engravings, contributed by Marcel van den Broecke (Cartigraphica Neerlandica, Bilthoven, Netherlands)
9:45 Welcoming Remarks
Massimo Ciavolella (UCLA), Director, CMRS
Maryanne Cline Horowitz (History, Occidental College & CMRS Associate
“Introduction: Rival Interpretations of the Continent Personifications”
SESSION I: From Cartographical Origins to an American Collection  |  Chair: Teofilo Ruiz (History, UCLA)
10:30 Chet Van Duzer (Lazarus Project)
“The Pre-History of the Personification of Continents on Maps: Earth, Ocean, and the Sons of Noah”
11:00 Louise Arizzoli (Art History, University of Mississippi)
“Collecting the Four Continents: James Hazen Hyde (1876-1959), an American in Paris”
11:30 Discussion
12:00 Lunch break
SESSION II: Sixteenth-Century Continent Personifications  |  Chair: Nicolas Wey-Gomez (History, California Institute of Technology)
1:30 Elizabeth Horodowich (History, New Mexico State University)
“Amerasia: The Venetian Allegories of Giuseppe Rosaccio”
2:00 Mark Rosen (Art History, University of Texas, Dallas)
“Worlds Apart: The Four Continents and the Civitates orbis terrarium
2:30 Discussion
3:00 Break
SESSION III: Transformations  |  Chair: Bronwen Wilson (Art History, UCLA)
3:30 Paul H. D. Kaplan (Art History, Purchase College, SUNY)
“Magi, Winds, Continents: Dark Skin and Territorial Embodiment in Early Modern Images”
4:00 Benjamin Schmidt (History, University of Washington)
“The Rearing Horse and Kneeling Camel:  When Did Europa ‘Race’ to Modernity (and Why)?”
4:30 Discussion
Saturday, January 13, 2018  |  UCLA Royce Hall Room 314
10:00 Coffee and light refreshments
SESSION IV: Sexualities and Gender Construction  |  Chair: Bronwen Wilson (Art History, UCLA)
10:30 Ann Rosalind Jones (Comparative Literature, Smith College)
“Dress and Undress: Allegories of the Continents on Costume-Book Title Pages”
11:00 Abdulhamit Arvas (Drama, Vassar College)
“Converting Boys: Homoerotic Encounters and Embodiment in Early Modern Spatial Imaginations”
11:30 Discussion
12:00 Lunch break
SESSION V: Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Continent Personifications  |  Chair: Lynn Hunt (History, UCLA)
1:30 Maryanne Cline Horowitz (History, Occidental College & CMRS Associate)
“Continuities and Transformation in a Late Seventeenth-Century Tapestry Set”
2:00 Marion Romberg (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Modern and Contemporary Historical Research)
“The Visible Church: Visualization of the Catholic World Order in Parish Churches in the Baroque Era”
2:30 Discussion
3:00 Break
SESSION VI: Personification and Ethnography  |  Chair: Teofilo Ruiz (History, UCLA)
3:30 Valerie Traub (English and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
“From Allegory to Ethnography: Sex, Race, and Personification in the Early Modern Period”
4:00 Michael Wintle (European Studies, University of Amsterdam)
“Gender and Race in the Personification of the Continents in the Early Modern Period: Building Eurocentrism”
4:30 Discussion
5:00 Concluding Remarks



Friday, Jan 12, 2018
Saturday, Jan 13, 2018



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