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Newberry Library (Chicago, IL 60610-3380)
Carla Zecher (Project Director: March 2004 to October 2006)

Seminars for Higher Education Faculty
Education Programs

$107,618 (approved)
$107,618 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2004 – 9/30/2005

Travel Writing, Skepticism, and Religious Belief in Renaissance France

A four-week summer seminar for college teachers to examine French Renaissance travel writing and the effect of the encounter with the peoples of the Americas on religious debates in sixteenth-century Europe.

This seminar will examine the intersection between travel writing, skepticism, and religious belief in Renaissance France, so as to reintegrate the religious consequences of early European/Amerindian encounters into our view of the cultural transformations initiated by the Age of Exploration. Attitudes adopted to deal with the religious status of Amerindians assumed a polemical role in the dissensions of the Reformation. Pseudo-travel texts by writers such as Rabelais and Montaigne applied exotic description to French culture, stripping meaning from familiar customs, making readers feel like foreigners at home. The disorientation effected by this literature framed the problem of religious doubt within a larger cross-cultural context.