Pacific Encounters in Print: Revisiting James Cook Voyage Publications

"Pacific Encounters in Print: Revisiting James Cook Voyage Publications"—The Kress Foundation Art of the Book in Europe Lecture by Kailani Polzak, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture, University of California, Santa Cruz Illustrated accounts of Captain Cook's voyages provided eighteenth- century Europeans and Euro-Americans with their visual encounters with the region we now refer to as Oceania. The so-called "discoveries" of these voyages— including charts, botanical illustrations, and pictures of Indigenous individuals and communities— are the product of intercultural encounters in which the British voyagers were often dependent upon and challenged by Pacific Islanders. The images that precipitated from these interactions circulated in official volumes published by the British Admiralty as well as magazines and almanacs. Kailani Polzak will contextualize the printed omnipresence of Cook’s voyages in relation to British imperial mapping projects and broader European discussions about the fixity of racial difference. By following a selection of compositions through their various permutations, Polzak will consider that reproduction and print technologies amplified the contradictions and challenges of these voyages rather than merely trumpeting their successes. Kailani Polzak is an Assistant Professor in the History of Art and Visual Culture at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She researches European visual culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries focusing on histories of science, aesthetic philosophy, race, colonialism, and intercultural contact in Oceania. Her current book project examines the graphic and printed works created about voyages to the Pacific conducted by Britain, France, and Russia. It traces how these pictures were used in arguments about geographical distances and human differences. Her publications and collaborative projects have also centered on the methodological questions raised by curating and writing colonial histories from multiple perspectives.
Rare Book School (created by)
Kailani Polzak (created by)

Polzak, Kailani. “Pacific Encounters in Print: Revisiting James Cook Voyage Publications.” Rare Book School . The Kress Foundation Art of the Book in Europe Lecture,

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