Engraving the Savage: The New World and Techniques of Civilization

Engraving the Savage: The New World and Techniques of Civilization

by Michael Gaudio
Pub. Date:
University of Minnesota Press
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Engraving the Savage: The New World and Techniques of Civilization

In 1585, the British painter and explorer John White created images of Carolina Algonquian Indians. These images were collected and engraved in 1590 by the Flemish publisher and printmaker Theodor de Bry and were reproduced widely, establishing the visual prototype of North American Indians for European and Euro-American readers.

In this innovative analysis, Michael Gaudio explains how popular engravings of Native American Indians defined the nature of Western civilization by producing an image of its “savage other.” Going beyond the notion of the “savage” as an intellectual and ideological construct, Gaudio examines how the tools, materials, and techniques of copperplate engraving shaped Western responses to indigenous peoples. Engraving the Savagedemonstrates that the early visual critics of the engravings attempted-without complete success-to open a comfortable space between their own “civil” image-making practices and the “savage” practices of Native Americans-such as tattooing, bodily ornamentation, picture-writing, and idol worship. The real significance of these ethnographic engravings, he contends, lies in the traces they leave of a struggle to create meaning from the image of the American Indian.

The visual culture of engraving and what it shows, Gaudio reasons, is critical to grasping how America was first understood in the European imagination. His interpretations of de Bry’s engravings describe a deeply ambivalent pictorial space in between civil and savage-a space in which these two organizing concepts of Western culture are revealed in their making.

Michael Gaudio is assistant professor of art history at the University of Minnesota.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816648474
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Publication date: 02/29/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,028,125
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Introduction: White Pebbles in the Dark Forest     ix
Savage Marks: The Scriptive Techniques of Early Modern Ethnography     1
Making Sense of Smoke: Engraving and Ornament in de Bry's America     45
Flatness and Protuberance: Reforming the Image in Protestant Print Culture     87
The Art of Scratch: Wood Engraving and Picture-Writing in the 1880s     127
Notes     167
Index     201

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