Daily Archives: September 5, 2012

Jan van der Straet’s “America” (ca. 1600) (HUM455/ HUM303)





In addition to being able to identify which of the assigned readings invoke van der Straet’s painting, it might be useful to think about the symbolism of the figures in this image. Consider, obviously, “America” as a woman reclining on a hammock, abruptly stirring into life at the approach of the male European explorer. Think too about the objects he carries: a banner, a cross, and what looks to be some nautical instrument which might signify European mastery of the elements via modern science.

For students of HUM303 the above image will, I hope, resonate with our discussion of Margaret Bruzelius’s remarks about the status of women/ the feminine in the masculine adventure novel. In the absence of actual female characters, she writes, the terrain itself is feminized.