Thursday Seminar. “The Fluid Topographies of Early Modern Travel”


Thursday, June 20, 2024, 6:00pm to 7:30pm


I Tatti
niall atkinson

Speaker: Niall Atkinson (I Tatti / University of Chicago)

On the move, across strange landscapes and endless seas, water, in its myriad forms and functions, was an important determinant in framing the gaze and (dis)orienting the body in early modern travel. Travel by sea gave travelers both a mode of apprehending the topography of land as much as it instilled the fear of sickness and death. In cities, water was both the object of fascination as well a force to be controlled and an element to be exploited. What can we gain, therefore, by exploring the ways in which the fluid topographies of early modern travel provided a medium through which travelers could take account of unfamiliar places and unfamiliar people?

Niall Atkinson is Associate Professor of Art History, Romance Languages and Literatures, and the Committee on the Environment, Geography, and Urbanization at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on the social and bodily experience of architecture and urban space in early modern Italy and he is the author of The Noisy Renaissance: Sound, Architecture, and Florentine Urban Life (Penn State, 2016). He is also experimenting with digital technologies to spatialize the demographic data contained in the 1427 tax census of Florence (CATASTO) into an interactive geographic platform in collaboration with a consortium of related digital reconstruction projects (Florentia Illustrata). In 2018, he co-curated the US Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale on the theme, “Dimensions of Citizenship.”


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