Benjamin Schmidt, "Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe's Early Modern World" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2015)


Benjamin Schmidt's beautiful new book argues that a new form of exoticism emerged in the Netherlands between the mid-1660s and the early 1730s, thanks to a series of successful products in a broad range of media that used both text and image to engage with the non-European world. Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe's Early Modern World (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) takes readers into the Dutch ateliers in which exotic geography was produced by bookmakers, paying special attention to frontispieces and other paratexts through which these editor-printer-booksellers created a new way of looking at the world. Picturing, here, was a kind of performance. Schmidt considers how the exotic, non-European body was produced not just in texts and pictures but also in a range of material arts that depicted the body experiencing pleasure and pain. The book concludes by looking ahead to the middle of the eighteenth century, when there was a backlash against exotic geography, and a call for more "order and method" in the geographical description of the world. Inventing Exoticism is a focused, gorgeously illustrated multi-media exploration of a topic of crucial importance to the history of the early modern world.

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