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Benjamin SchmidtInventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe’s Early Modern World

University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015

by Carla Nappi on May 19, 2015

Benjamin Schmidt

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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.


Robin Grier and Jerry F. HoughThe Long Process of Development: Building Markets and States in Pre-industrial England, Spain and their Colonies

May 11, 2015

According to a popular saying, "Nothing succeeds like success." As concerns what economists and political scientists call "development"–that is, progress towards liberty and prosperity–the saying seems to be true. As a general rule, the countries that were relatively free and relatively prosperous 100 years ago are the ones that are relatively free and relatively prosperous today. 200 years ago? […]

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Michael LeggiereBlücher: Scourge of Napoleon

May 1, 2015

I have really enjoyed Michael Leggiere's earlier work, including the excellent Napoleon and Berlin : The Franco-Prussian War in North Germany, 1813 (2002), like this work, part of the Campaigns and Commanders series at the University of Oklahoma Press. In Blücher: Scourge of Napoleon (University of Oklahoma Press, 2014), Leggiere rescues Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher from the shadow […]

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Thomas KempleIntellectual Work and the Spirit of Capitalism: Weber’s Calling

April 28, 2015

Thomas Kemple's new book is an extraordinarily thoughtful invitation to approach Max Weber (1864-1920) as a performer, and to experience Weber's work by attending to his spoken and written voice. Intellectual Work and the Spirit of Capitalism: Weber's Calling (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) looks carefully at the literary structure and aesthetic elements of Weber's arguments, considering […]

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Hugo FreyNationalism and the Cinema in France: Political Mythologies and Film Events, 1945-1995

April 24, 2015

Hugo Frey's new book, Nationalism and the Cinema in France: Political Mythologies and Film Events, 1945-1995 (Berghahn Books, 2014) distinguishes between a national cinema (films made in France) and a nationalist cinema motivated by the specific agenda to promote une certaine idée de la France. Working with ideas about "political mythology" and the "film event," […]

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Aristotle TziampirisThe Emergence of Israeli-Greek Cooperation

March 30, 2015

Aristotle Tziampiris is The Emergence of Israeli-Greek Cooperation (Springer, 2015). Tziampiris is Associate Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International and European Affairs at the Department of International and European Studies at the University of Piraeus. The recent fiscal debt crisis in Greece has drawn world attention to the country’s position […]

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Dhara AnjariaCurzon’s India: Networks of Colonial Governance, 1899-1905

March 25, 2015

I won't speak for you, but I find it utterly remarkable that the British were able to "rule" India. Britain, of course, is a small island off a small continent some significant distance from most of its colonies. India, in contrast, is essentially a continent unto itself and the home of an ancient, sophisticated civilization. How […]

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Nick WildingGalileo’s Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Politics of Knowledge

March 15, 2015

Nick Wilding’s new book is brilliant, thoughtful, and an absolute pleasure to read. Galileo’s Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and The Politics of Knowledge (University of Chicago Press, 2014) takes an unusual approach to understanding Galileo and his context by focusing its narrative on his closest friend, student, and patron, the Venetian Gianfrancesco Sagredo. Though most readers […]

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Brian VickThe Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics after Napoleon

March 14, 2015

You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who knows anything about European history–and European diplomatic history in particular–who doesn't know a little something about the Congress of Vienna. That "little something" is probably that the Congress fostered a post-war (Napoleonic War, that is) settlement called the "Concert of Europe" that lasted, roughly, until the outbreak of […]

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Kaeten MistryThe United States, Italy, and the Origins of Cold War: Waging Political Warfare

March 11, 2015

In the annals of cold war history Italy is rarely seen as a crucial locale.  In his stimulating new book, The United States, Italy, and the Origins of Cold War: Waging Political Warfare (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Kaeten Mistry reveals how events in Italy proved surprisingly crucial in defining a conflict that dominated much of […]

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