Peripheral Wonders: Nature, Knowledge, and Enlightenment in the Eighteenth-Century Orinoco

Overview

This book expands traditional conceptions of the Enlightenment by examining the roles of wonder and Jesuit missionary conceptions of the Enlightenment by examining the century in a production of knowledge that serves both intellectual and religious functions. Ewalt analyzes a variety of classical and sacred rhetorical techniques for vivid persuasion that illuminate the simultaneously spiritual and scientific discourse employed by Joseph Gumilla in El Orinoco ilustrado (1741, 45), a text that concretizes an ...

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Overview

This book expands traditional conceptions of the Enlightenment by examining the roles of wonder and Jesuit missionary conceptions of the Enlightenment by examining the century in a production of knowledge that serves both intellectual and religious functions. Ewalt analyzes a variety of classical and sacred rhetorical techniques for vivid persuasion that illuminate the simultaneously spiritual and scientific discourse employed by Joseph Gumilla in El Orinoco ilustrado (1741, 45), a text that concretizes an eclectic, Catholic Enlightenment that unites sentiment and reason, allows for emotion within scientific inquiry, and employs the strategy of wonder to accumulate, enumerate, and disseminate knowledge. Ewalt's work complements and extends studies proposing new and more inclusive Enlightenment models that challenge secular prejudices and reconsiders the assumption of European centrality by taking into account the Americas and other peripheral areas where modernity was redefined rather.

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin Of Spanish Studies
Peripheral Wonders is an acutely observed and carefully argued book that combines close textual analysis with a broader historical perspective . . . . Ewalt's reappraisal of Gumilla's work complements a growing body of scholarship that challenges traditional understandings of Enlightenment. It makes a persuasive case for reconsidering the role of the Jesuits in this movement and it contributes to current debates on the role of the periphery and indigenous people in the creation of European knowledge.'
— Helen Cowie, University of Warwick
Bulletin of Spanish Studies - Helen Cowie
'Peripheral Wonders is an acutely observed and carefully argued book that combines close textual analysis with a broader historical perspective . . . . Ewalt's reappraisal of Gumilla's work complements a growing body of scholarship that challenges traditional understandings of Enlightenment. It makes a persuasive case for reconsidering the role of the Jesuits in this movement and it contributes to current debates on the role of the periphery and indigenous people in the creation of European knowledge.'
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Margaret R. Ewalt is associate professor of Spanish at Wake Forest University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Pathways to Modernity 13

1 Father Gumilla's Textual Cabinet of Curiosities, Missionary Authority, and Rhetoric of Wonder 35

2 Colonization, Commerce, and Conversions: Mapping the Economic and Evangelical Values of the Orinoco 64

3 The Jesuits and an Eclectic Enlightenment: Mediating Knowledge and Catholicism 95

4 Oh Monstruo, Oh Bestial: Pathways to Knowledge in El Orinoco ilustrado 140

Conclusion: The Legacy of Joseph Gumilla's El Orinoco ilustrado 171

Notes 189

Bibliography 236

Index 251

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