Friday, April 4th, at noon in the Bayley Room in Beeghly Library
Sharon Kinoshita will give a talk about Marco Polo.
The earliest version of the text today known as Marco Polo’s Travels bore the title The Description of the World (Le Devisement du monde). Composed in the literary dialect of Old French that scholars call “Franco-Italian,” it lacks many of the more sensationalist passages that have led some to regard Marco’s work as an early example of Orientalism or proto-colonial discourse. In her talk, Sharon Kinoshita repositions this text not as a travel narrative but as medieval compendium, partaking in a “world empire of letters” including Italian merchant manuals on the one hand and Arabic and even Chinese geographical accounts on the other.
Sharon Kinoshita is Professor of Literature and director of the Center for Mediterranean Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Medieval Boundaries: Rethinking Difference in Old French Literature (2006), co-author of Marie de France: A Critical Companion (2013), and co-editor of A Companion to Mediterranean History (2014). She is currently preparing an annotated translation of Marco Polo’s Description of the World, along with a companion monograph.