University of Erfurt

Projekt von Emily Teo M.A.

The Literary Kunstkammer: East Asian Objects in German and Dutch Travel Books

My project studies the representations of East Asian objects in European travel texts, with a particular focus on texts published in German and Dutch. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, numerous voyages that departed from Europe towards Asia widened the perspectives of early modern Europeans. Travellers to East Asia came back with specific accounts of their journeys there. Although East Asia was at first a fuzzy mirage in the minds of early modern Europeans, fed with tales of Marco Polo’s Travels and John Mandeville’s fabulous and fabricated travel stories, the sixteenth century saw a dawning of a new understanding and appreciation of East Asia. First contact with China was made by the Portuguese and diplomatic missions by the Spanish quickly ensued. Soon after, German and Dutch travellers were also arriving in East Asia, establishing contact with local authorities. The relationship between European countries and China, Japan and Korea were complex, filled with imperial and missionizing designs, on the part of Europeans. At the same time, there was a genuine curiosity about these “old worlds” that were newly apprehended. Travel writing played a key role in bringing information about these lands to European audiences, allowing them to attain a clearer picture of East Asia through literary descriptions of East Asian peoples, customs and objects.

Kurzbiographie

Emily received an Erasmus Mundus fellowship to join the 2014-2017 cohort of the doctoral programme Text and Event in Early Modern Europe (TEEME) at the University of Kent and the Free University of Berlin, working on Chinese and European travel texts about China. She completed her Masters in Global Studies at the University of Vienna and the University of Leipzig (2012-2014).

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