HIST 4101A/ENGL 4301A/ENGL 5900R: Travel & Mobility in the Early Modern World
Summer 2024

Instructor: Professor Paul Nelles

Course Description:

This seminar explores the experience of travel and mobility through the eyes of the Florentine merchant Francesco Carletti. In 1594, Carletti departed from Spain to make his fortune as a private merchant. He travelled to Mexico and Peru, to the Philippines and Japan, to China and India. The early modern period experienced an unprecedented level of mobility, both within Europe and globally. We follow Carletti’s journey by reading his chronicle of his travels, My Voyage Around the World. Each week of the course we study in detail some of the places Carletti travelled and the peoples he encountered. The seminar covers topics such as life at sea, slavery, food and drink, sexuality, the rise of global commerce, and natural history.

The seminar considers the social and cultural context of early modern mobility at the transnational and global levels. The seminar seeks to re-create the material and cultural world of early modern travel. We explore how linguistic and cultural difference were experienced, how travellers made sense of unfamiliar places, social customs, and cultural practices, and the ‘things’ that also moved on journeys.