The Atlantic World before Jamestown

Professor Peter Mancall will be presenting a lecture on the sixteenth-century Atlantic World at the Newberry Library on Saturday, 2 February 2019 at 10 AM – 11:30 AM.

“In the 16th-century Atlantic world, nature and culture swirled in people’s minds to produce fantastic images. In the South of France, a cloister’s painted wooden panels greeted parishioners with vivid depictions of unicorns, dragons, and centaurs, while Mayans in the Yucatan created openings to buildings that resembled a fierce animal’s jaws, known to archaeologists as serpent-column portals. Throughout the 16th century, the borders between the natural world and the supernatural remained more porous than modern readers may realize. Native Americans and Europeans alike thought about monsters, spirits, and insects in considerable depth.”

“Historian Peter Mancall reveals how Europeans and Native Americans thought about a natural world undergoing rapid change in the century following the historic voyages of Christopher Columbus. Drawing on oral history and folklore maintained for centuries by Native Americans, as well as spectacular manuscript atlases, paintings that depict on-the-spot European representations of nature, and texts that circulated imperfectly across the ocean, Dr. Mancall will explore how the encounter between the old world and the new changed the fate of millions of individuals.”

“After the talk, Dr. Mancall will sign copies of his new book, Nature and Culture in the Early Modern Atlantic, which will be available for purchase in the Newberry Rosenberg Bookshop.”

For more information, and to register, please visit:

This entry was posted in Atlantic World, Cultural History, Early Modern Europe, Early Modern World, Empires and Imperialism, Environmental History, European History, Globalization, Lectures and Seminars, Maritime History, Renaissance Art and History. Bookmark the permalink.

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