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Journal > Volumes > 36 (2005) / 4 (Winter)
Armchair Travelers and the Venetian Discovery of the New World
Liz Horodowich
New Mexico State University

While Venetians were not the discoverers or explorers of the New World, Venice was the capital of early modern print culture and transmitted knowledge about the explorations to Europe. A close look at the work of a series of Venetian armchair travelers—editors, mapmakers, and designers of costume books—reveals the profound anxieties these authors expressed about Venice’s changing status in early modern Europe. Once an unassailable maritime and territorial empire, the lagoon city was increasingly eclipsed in the sixteenth century, economically and culturally, by the Ottomans and other emerging European powers. In response, Venetian writers employed the cultural strategy of using images of the New World to assert the importance of the Venetian past. Such images served to assuage their insecurities and shore up images of Venetian superiority

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