Friday, October 15, 2010

Scholar to Discuss How Travelogues from Persia Shaped Europe’s Perceptions of "the Oriental"

CHESTERTOWN—The 2010 Conrad M. Wingate Memorial Lecturer in History will explain how the travel writing of a 17th century German scholar created an image of “the Oriental” for his European readers that would have lasting implications. Speaking Thursday, October 28, at 7:30 in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center, on the Washington College campus, Dr. Elio Brancaforte will base his talk largely on his 2003 book, Visions of Persia, Mapping the Travels of Adam Olearius (Harvard, 2003).

Chair of German and Slavic Studies at Tulane University, Brancaforte is an expert in the history and sociology lessons to be gleaned not only from Persian travelogues, but also from the images of the region made by baroque cartographers. In 2008, he and a colleague from the University of Seville co-curated two exhibits at Harvard University: “From Rhubarb to Rubies: European Travelers to Safavid Iran, 1550-1700” and “The Lands of the Sophi: Iran in Early Modern European Maps, 1500-1700.

The relationship between word and image is an underlying theme in much of his research and informs his current book project on representations of Safavid Iran in early modern European travel accounts.

Brancaforte has published articles on other European travelers to Iran, including Engelbert Kaempfer and Pietro Della Valle. He also contributed a chapter on German cartographic depictions of the Persian Gulf in the Atlas Historique du Golfe Persique (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles)/Historical Atlas of the Persian Gulf (16th to 18th Centuries) (Brepols, 2006).

Brancaforte teaches a wide range of classes on language, literature and culture in Tulane’s German studies program and has lectured widely in the U.S. and abroad. He holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an M.A. in French from Johns Hopkins University. He earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, specializing in early modern German literature, with minors in French and English.


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