Lia Markey and Stephanie Porras will present at the Seminar in Renaissance and Early Modern Material Culture. They will each give a short paper followed by a moderated conversation and Q&A session.
“Ethnography and Materiality in Dudley’s Arcano del mare (1646–1647)” (Lia Markey)

This talk will examine the relationship between the materiality and the content of Robert Dudley’s Arcano del mare (Secrets of the Seas) (1646–1647). Thought to be the first printed sea atlas, it is comprised of large-scale engraved maps and numerous charts with volvelles. The multi-volume book seeks to comprehensively document the world and demonstrate mastery over the seas. Created at the Medici court in Florence by the son of the more renowned Robert Dudley (1st Earl of Leicester), the younger Dudley sought to legitimize himself through his navigational studies and knowledge of ship building. This paper will introduce Dudley’s obscure career and the complex atlas itself, exploring the motivation for its creation over a forty-year period and questioning the role of ethnography in print.

“Foul Biting, or Diego Valadés and the Medium of Print” (Stephanie Porras)

In 1579, while representing the Franciscan Order in Rome, Diego Valadés published the Rhetorica Christiana. Although indebted to earlier rhetorical treatises, the Rhetorica Christiana also uniquely draws upon Valadés’ own experience as a missionary in New Spain. The volume contains an unusual number of illustrations—twenty-seven prints—depicting mnemonic alphabets and instruments of memory, evangelization efforts in New Spain, as well as pre-Hispanic customs. Two scholarly assumptions have undergirded previous studies of the Rhetorica: that Valadés was mestizo (that is, of mixed indigenous and European parentage) and that the prints are engraved. Yet, Valadés likely left Spain as a child and many of the prints are etched and signed (“fecit”) by the author himself. Reassessing the facture and ambition of the Rhetorica’s prints, this talk explores the epistemological and ontological operations of print in mediating transatlantic experience and the emerging fiction of ethnographic distance.


Lia Markey is the Director of the Center for Renaissance Studies at Chicago’s Newberry Library. Dr. Markey’s research examines cross-cultural exchange between Italy and the Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, collecting history, and early modern prints and drawings. She has published Imagining the Americas in Medici Florence (2016) and a co-edited volume The New World in Early Modern Italy, 1492–1750 (2017). Her new edited volume, Renaissance Invention: Stradanus’s “Nova Reperta” (2020), complements the Newberry Library’s fall 2020 exhibition by the same title. She currently participates in the Getty Connecting Art Histories Research Group, “Spanish Italy and the Iberian New World.”

Stephanie Porras is Associate Professor of Art History at Tulane University in New Orleans. She is finishing a book, The First Viral Images, on the mobility of early modern artworks and their role in processes of globalization; this project has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Renaissance Society of America, the New York Public Library, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. She is the author of Pieter Bruegel’s Historical Imagination (2016), Art of the Northern Renaissance (2018), and recent articles for Colonial Latin American Review, Nederlands Kunsthistorisches Jaarboek, and Artl@s bulletin. She is also the incoming Reviews Editor for The Art Bulletin.


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