The interaction of the “Old World” and the “New World,” begun more than five centuries ago when Columbus set foot on a small island in the Caribbean, will provide the central theme for the ACM Newberry Seminar: Research in the Humanities in fall 2013, titled “Representing the Other in Image, Text, and Landscape.”
Colorado College professors William Davis and Eric Perramond have been named as the Faculty Fellows to team teach the semester-length seminar in which students engage with primary source materials at one of the world’s foremost independent research libraries in the humanities.
Biggs, Walter, Expeditio Francisca Drake… “S. Domingo.” Ayer 116 D8 B5 1588.
Courtesy of the Newberry Library.
Each year, the seminar addresses a broad, interdisciplinary topic developed by a pair of visiting faculty. Working with the seminar faculty and the expert reference staff at the Newberry Library, students participate in discussions of seminar readings, explore the Newberry’s collections, develop their abilities as researchers, and write a well-written and documented research paper.
Faculty at colleges in the ACM and Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) are eligible to apply as teams to lead the Newberry Seminar. According to ACM Vice President John Ottenhoff, the selection committee for the fall 2013 seminar had an “embarrassment of riches,” as it received four excellent proposals. The Davis-Perramond proposal, he noted, was especially attractive since it highlights unique Newberry resources such as the Herman Dunlop Smith Center for the History of Cartography and the 500,000 maps in the library.
In proposing the topic, Davis and Perramond outlined some overarching questions for students to explore in the 2013 seminar:
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? … Columbus’s voyage, Galileo’s cosmos, Luther’s threat to papal control – along with the rise of technologies such as the printing press – left many Europeans wondering exactly where in the universe they now belonged. New maps – both literal and figurative – were needed to orient people. How did these new images, maps, texts, and landscapes transform both Old and New World ideas about human diversity, divinities, and cultural discourses?
Ottenhoff observed that the theme of representing and “mapping” the New World of North America opens up provocative questions for a wide range of disciplines. “Bill and Eric, I’m confident, will shape a seminar that not only challenges students with powerful historical, cultural, and literary questions about representations, but also fully immerses them in the amazing resources of the Newberry Library,” he said.
The two professors emphasized that the topic utilizes many of the strengths of the Newberry’s collections in addition to the maps. For example, European collections at the library particularly focus on the Renaissance, the French Revolutionary era, Portuguese and Luso-Brazilian history, and British literature and history. The Newberry also has extensive holdings covering the American West, European exploration and settlement of the New World, local Chicago history and genealogy, Native American history and literature, and the literature and history of the Midwest.
Newberry Seminar Faculty Fellows in fall 2013
Dr. William Davis is an associate professor of comparative literature and German at Colorado College. His specialties include the English and German Romantic period authors, especially the German author Goethe, comparative European literature, and literary theory, and he currently works on connections between technology and cultural production. He also was involved in the interdisciplinary approaches to new course design: Utopias and Dystopias, Postmodernism, Freedom and Authority.
An associate professor of environmental science and Southwest studies at Colorado College, Dr. Eric Perramond has co-taught with geologists, historians, and anthropologists. He is a geographer who specializes in historical geography and human-environment relations, and has worked in Mexico, the greater Southwest, and the Mediterranean on issues of natural resources governance, human-environment relationships, and cultural and material consequences of indigenous-Spanish contact.
Additional information about the fall 2013 Newberry Seminar and Professors Davis and Perramond will be available on the ACM website this summer.