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From The University of Minnesota Press
Engraving the Savage
The New World and Techniques of Civilization
By Michael Gaudio
232 pp. / 79 b&w photos / 7 x 10 / 2008
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In 1585, the British painter and explorer John White created images of Carolina Algonquian Indians. These images were collected and engraved in 1590 by the Flemish publisher and

"A welcome addition to both art history and Native American studies shelves."
The Midwest Book Review

"Art historians may well stand up and cheer at the voracity with which Michael Gaudio's Engraving the Savage returns to the visual image and its making as a site to begin interpretation. In short, it is an important contribution to early modern art history and to scholarship of the West's visual production of the New World, especially in terms of methodology. "
Renaissance Quarterly

"Engraving the Savage is a path-breaking and welcome contribution to Renaissance and early modern art history. "
— Bronwen Wilson, University of British Columbia

"Gaudio's work offers new ways to think about some of the most influential engravings in Western Culture"
Indigenous Peoples Issues
printmaker Theodor de Bry and were reproduced widely, establishing the visual prototype of North American Indians for European and Euro-American readers.

In this innovative analysis, Michael Gaudio explains how popular engravings of Native American Indians defined the nature of Western civilization by producing an image of its "savage other." Going beyond the notion of the "savage" as an intellectual and ideological construct, Gaudio examines how the tools, materials, and techniques of copperplate engraving shaped Western responses to indigenous peoples. Engraving the Savage demonstrates that the early visual critics of the engravings attempted, without complete success, to open a comfortable space between their own "civil" image-making practices and the "savage" practices of Native Americans, such as tattooing, bodily ornamentation, picture-writing, and idol worship. The real significance of these ethnographic engravings, he contends, lies in the traces they leave of a struggle to create meaning from the image of the American Indian.

The visual culture of engraving and what it shows, Gaudio reasons, is critical to grasping how America was first understood in the European imagination. His interpretations of de Bry's engravings describe a deeply ambivalent pictorial space in between civil and savage, a space in which these two organizing concepts of Western culture are revealed in their making.

About Michael Gaudio

Michael Gaudio is assistant professor of art history at the University of Minnesota.