Early American History Seminar: Michael Gaudio, University of Minnesota

Thursday, October 23, 2003

3:30 pm to 5:30 pm

Early American History and Culture Seminar

“Savage Marks: Engraving, Empire, and Thomas Harriot’s Briefe and True Report”
Michael Gaudio, University of Minnesota
In 1590, the Flemish engraver Theodor de Bry published Thomas Harriot’s A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia, an illustrated promotional tract designed to encourage investment in Sir Walter Raleigh’s Roanoke colony. The Report includes de Bry’s engraving of a tattooed Algonquian warrior entitled “The Marckes of sundrye of the Chief mene of Virginia.” Setting this engraving within the context of a humanist network of scriptive practices circa 1600, this paper examines the role of the early modern engraver in negotiating the highly unstable ground separating “savage” tattoos and “civilized” letters.