Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities
2006—2007 Forum on Travel
Assistant Professor, English, Swarthmore College
Paths of Desire: Importation of American Luxury Goods into Europe during the Early Modern Period
In a recently completed manuscript on Renaissance privateering (Pirates in the Paper Sea), Prof. Campos demonstrates how maritime piracy reconfigures traditional notions of literary property across international lines in the context of imperial competition. Arguing that literary relations between England and Spain are modeled on the state-sponsored policy of English piracy in Spanish-American waters, he shows how this practice of plunder gave rise to a discursive framework of international theft within which English translators worked to “steal” Spanish texts and culture. In Paths of Desire, Prof. Campos will focus on European travel sites of New World production, not merely marking the appearance of luxury commodities on the European market, but following European travelers to the source to show how discourses surrounding the use of products in their native environments script their entrance into Europe. While his work will rely heavily on texts produced on both sides of the Atlantic, such as European dietary guides, herbals or New World natural histories, that reliance on transatlantic travel narratives will help to show how commodities signify at great distance along chains of economic desire. Products to be studied are gold, tobacco, cocoa, and Mexican chocolate.