Benjamin Schmidt

  • Professor
  • Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor

Ph.D. Harvard University, 1994

Fields: Early Modern Europe, Early Modern Globalism, Comparative Colonialisms, Material Culture
Phone: 206-543-2373
Office: SMI 116 | Office Hours: By appointment

Current Project: 

"Mediating the World:  Early Modern Things and their Global Iterations"


Current and Recent courses:

"Exploration and Empire:  The Art and Science of Global Power 1300-1800" (HSTRY 245)

"Early Modernity:  Culture, Politics, Power, 1300-1700"  (HSTEU 301)

"Spain and its Golden Age, 1469-1700"  (HSTEU 361)

"Curious Things:  Objects, Wonders, and the Global Renaissance"  (HSTRY 498)

"Exoticism:  Global Exchange 1400-1800"  (HSTRY 388)

"Cities and Courts: Culture and Society in the Baroque World"  (HSTRY 400)

"Traveling the Early Modern World"  (HSTRY 498)

"The Global Renaissance: Topics in Early Modern European History"  (HSTEU 505)





Inventing Exoticism:  Geography, Globalism, and Europe's Early Modern World (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015)

Innocence Abroad: The Dutch Imagination and the New World, 1570-1670 (Cambridge University Press, 2001; paperback ed. 2006).

  * Winner, Renaissance Society of America's Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Prize for best book in Renaissance studies (all disciplines), 2002-2003 
  * Winner, the Holland Society's Hendricks Prize for best book in colonial Dutch studies, 2002-2003.

Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe: Practices, Objects, and Texts, 1400-1800 (University of Chicago Press, 2008) (with Pamela Smith).

The Discovery of Guiana by Sir Walter Ralegh (edited, annotated and introduced; with ancillary documents). Bedford Series in History and Culture, ed. Natalie Zemon Davis, Lynn Hunt, David W. Blight and Bonnie Smith (Bedford/St. Martins, 2008).

Going Dutch: The Dutch Presence in America, 1609-2009 (Brill Academic Press, 2008) (with A. Stott and J. Goodfriend).

Articles (select)
"Form, Meaning, Furniture:  On Exotic Things, Mediated Meanings, and Material Practices in Early Modern Europe."  In Praktiken der Frühen Neuzeit: Akteure – Handlungen – Artefakte, ed. Arndt Brendecke (Vienna and Cologne, 2015), 274-291.
"Knowledge Products and their Transmediations:  Dutch Geography and the Transformation of the World."  In Transformations of Knowledge in Dutch Expansion, ed. Arndt Brendecke, Stefan Ehrenpreis, and Susanne Friedrich, Pluralisierung und Autorität, vol. 44 (Berlin and Boston, 2015), 121-159.
"The 'Dutch' 'Atlantic' and the Dubious Case of Frans Post."  In Dutch Atlantic Connections, 1680-1800: Linking Empires, Bridging Borders, ed. Gert Oostindie and Jessica Roitman; Atlantic World: Europe, Africa and the Americas, 1500-1830, vol. 29 (Leiden, 2014), 249-273.

"The Spaces of Memory and their Transmediations:  On the Lives of Exotic Images and their Material Evocations," in Memory Before Modernity: Practices of Memory in Early Modern Europe, ed. J. Pollmann et al. (Leiden, 2013), 223-251.

"The Folly of the World: Moralism, Globalism, and the Business of Geography in the Early Enlightenment," in The Great Mirror of Folly: Finance, Culture, and the Great Crash of 1720, ed. W. N. Goetzmann, C. Labio, K. Rouwenhorst, and T. Young (New Haven, 2013).

"The Limits of Language and the Challenges of Exotica: Pictures, Words, and Global Knowledge in Early Modern Europe," in Translating Knowledge in the Early Modern Low Countries, ed. Harold J. Cook and Sven Dupré (London and Berlin, 2013).

"On the Impulse of Mapping, or How a Flat Earth Theory of Dutch Maps Distorts the Thickness and Pictorial Proclivities of Early Modern Cartography (and Misses Its Picturing Impulse)," Art History 35, no. 5 (Nov. 2012), 1036-1050

"Collecting Global Icons: The Case of the Exotic Parasol," in Collecting Across Cultures: Material Exchanges in the Early Modern Atlantic World, ed. Daniela Bleichmar and Peter C. Mancall (Philadelphia, 2011), 31-57.

"Accumulating the World: Collecting and Commodifying 'Globalism' in Early Modern Europe," in Centres and Cycles of Accumulation in and Around the Netherlands during the Early Modern Period, ed. Lissa Roberts (Berlin, 2011), 129-155.

"The Atlas Van der Hem and the Culture of Print Geography," in The Atlas Blaeu-Van der Hem, vol. 8, ed. G�nter Schilder et alia (Houten, 2011), 189-202.

"The Dutch Atlantic: From Provincialism to Globalism," in Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal, ed. Jack P. Greene and Philip D. Morgan (Oxford, 2009), 163-190.

"Geography Unbound: Boundaries and the Exotic World in the Early Enlightenment," in Boundaries and their Meanings in the History of the Netherlands, ed. Benjamin Kaplan, Marybeth Carlson, and Laura Cruz, Studies in Central European Histories, vol. 48 (Leiden, 2009), 35-62.

"Knowledge and its Making in Early Modern Europe" (with P. Smith), in Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe: Practices, Objects, and Texts, 1400-1800 (Chicago, 2008), 1-18.

"Ralegh's Courteous Conquest." In The Discovery of Guiana by Sir Walter Ralegh (Boston and New York, 2008), 1-45.

"Holland in America" (with A. Stott and J. Goodfriend). In Going Dutch: The Dutch Presence in America, 1609-2009 (Leiden, 2008), 1-24.

"Maps and the Early Modern State: Official Cartography" (with Richard Kagan), in The History of Cartography, vol. 3, "Cartography in the European Renaissance," ed. David Woodward (Chicago, 2007), 661-680.

"Reading Ralegh's America: Textual Experience and Travel Literature in the Early Modern Atlantic World." In The Atlantic World and Virginia, 1550-1624, ed. Peter Mancall (Chapel Hill, 2007), 453-488.

"'Imperfect Chaos': Tropical Medicine and Exotic Natural History Circa 1700," in Medicine and Religion in Enlightenment Europe, ed. Andrew Cunningham and Ole Peter Grell (Aldershot, 2007), 145-173.

"Nicolaes Cornelisz Witsen (1641-1717)," in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. Colin Matthew et al. (Oxford, 2004).

"The Purpose of Pirates, or Assimilating New Worlds in the Renaissance," in The Atlantic World: Studies in Migration, Imagination, and Slavery, ed. Willem Klooster and Alfred L. Padula (Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2004), 160-177

"The World of Early Modern Spain: Empire and its Anxieties in the Golden Age" (with Richard Kagan), in Spain and the Age of Exploration, 1492-1819, ed. Chiyo Ishikawa (Seattle and London, 2004), 48-90

"Mapping an Exotic World: The Global Project of Geography, circa 1700," in The Global Eighteenth Century, ed. Felicity Nussbaum (Baltimore and London, 2003), 19-37.

"American Natural." Review essay on early modern science and natural history, in Reviews in American History, vol. 30 (Dec., 2002), 530-541.

"Inventing Exoticism: The Project of Dutch Geography and the Marketing of the World, circa 1700," inMerchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe, ed. Paula Findlen and Pamela H. Smith (London, 2002), 347-370.

"The Hope of the Netherlands: Menasseh ben Israel and the Dutch Idea of America," in The Jews and the Expansion of Europe to the West, 1450 to 1800, ed. Paolo Bernardini and Norman Fiering, European Expansion And Global Interaction, vol. 2 (Oxford and New York, 2001), 86-107.

"Going Dutch." Review essay on colonial New York and Atlantic World history, in Reviews in American History, vol. 28 (June, 2000), 187-195.

"Exotic Allies: The Dutch-Chilean Encounter and the (Failed) Conquest of America," Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 52, no.2 (Summer, 1999), 440-473.

"Space, Time, Travel: Hugo de Groot [Grotius], Johannes de Laet, and the 'Advancement' of Geographic Learning," Lias: The Journal of Early Modern History of Ideas, vol. 25 (1998), 177-199.

"American Allies: The Dutch Encounter with the New World, 1492-1650." Working Papers of the International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World, 3rd ser., no. 32 (1998), 1-30

"Mapping an Empire: Cartographic and Colonial Rivalry in Seventeenth-Century Dutch and English North America," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., vol. 54 (July, 1997), 549-578.

"The Past in a Foreign Country: Patriotic History and Republican Geography in the Netherlands, ca. 1600-1648." In Presenting the Past: History, Art, Language, Literature, ed. J. Fenoulhet and L. Gilbert, Series Crossways, vol. 3 (London, 1996), 28-38.

"Girolamo Benzoni's Historia del mondo nuovo (Venice, 1565) and Its Translations." In I Found it at the JCB: Scholars and Sources, ed. Norman Fiering (Providence, RI, 1996).

"Tyranny Abroad: The Dutch Revolt and the Invention of America." De Zeventiende Eeuw: Cultuur in de Nederlanden in Interdisciplinair Perspectief, vol. 11, no. 2 (1995), 161-174.

"'O Fortunate Land!': Karel van Mander, a West Indies Landscape, and the Dutch Discovery of the New World." Nieuwe West-Indische Gids, Publications of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, vol. 69, nos. 1 & 2 (1995), 5-44.