Pacific Encounters in Print: Revisiting James Cook Voyage Publications – The Kress Foundation Art of the Book in Europe Lecture

Date: 31 July 2023
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Dome Room, UVA Rotunda
Lecturer: 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 first 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.