The Travelers’ Library: Early Modern Exploration and Italian Popular Epic


ACLS Fellowship Program


French and Italian


This project seeks to recover a connection between exploration writing and popular epic poems in early modern Italy. The presence of archetypal figures like the Amazon in discovery texts has been connected to the cultural tradition dating back to Herodotus’ History and the Classical myth. This project challenges this assumption, and attempts to reconstruct the system of representations available to Italian authors of the late fifteenth and sixteenth century in the form of popular epic poems. The Italian exploration narratives of Vespucci, Ramusio and Pigafetta are presented in light of the epic tradition of the cantari, popular texts widely circulated at the end of the fifteenth century.