Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500-1800

Beginning in the sixteenth century, the golden age of European overseas navigation brought about the flowering of an abundant textile trade. Textiles and textile designs made their way around the globe, from India and Asia to Europe, between India and Asia and Southeast Asia, from Europe back to the east, and eventually to the west to the colonies of the Americas. Trade textiles blended the traditional designs, materials, and skills of the cultures that produced them, as well as some of the aesthetic preferences of their consumers. As such, they offer a chance to explore broad networks of cultural and material exchange and the specific local conditions in which such objects were made and used. This seminar, run at the Metropolitan Museum in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, takes trade textiles as its theme, offering participants a chance for close and sustained study of the objects on view and of the historical patterns they exemplify. Meetings will take place in the exhibition galleries and the Met’s Antonio Ratti Textile Center, where students will gain experience with the close analysis of objects, using trade textiles in the collection to write both catalogue-style entries and a longer research paper modeled on an article for an academic journal such as Textile History. Guest instructors include exhibition curators Amelia Peck (American Wing) and Melinda Watt (European Sculpture and Decorative Arts), in addition to other co-curators and specialists. 3 credits. Satisfies pre-1800 requirement.