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The concept of episteme in Christopher Columbus Journals of the Discovery of America

Grant number: 17/19766-4
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2018
Effective date (End): April 30, 2019
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Literature
Principal researcher:Marcia Maria de Arruda Franco
Grantee:Luís Felipe Ferrari
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Travel literature from XV and XVI centuries, notwithstanding portraying itself as an esthetical and historiographic interest, is, above all, a possibility to penetrate into Renaissance's worldview in the singular moment man found himself facing an extraordinary unknown world. We may find in the travelers' reports the interpretational practices of reality that relate the Other to the qualities of the Same, so that they become an example of the episteme within the timeframe in question, allowing the exposition of the immediate experience of the "order" typical of Renaissance, accordingly to Michel Foucault's post-structuralist theory. We would find, thus, in the texts of the Iberian travelers an extremely fortuned threshold to penetrate into the ways of being and thinking peculiar to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Therefore, this research intends to observe, through and "archelogy of knowledge", the outspread of fifteenth-century episteme in the critical moment wherein the Same was forced to encounter elements which were completely separated from its worldview, and which, regardless, had to be comprehended under the same parameters. Hence, we intend to understand the European gaze at the Other during the Renaissance in Columbus's Journals of the Discovery of America, taken here as a significant account due to the immensurable historical importance of the events they narrate. Consequently, it becomes essential to understand the textual representation of the Other in the Journals, for it will be through such representation that the "order" will be revealed: in the expression, in a common vocabulary and language with images conceived by the Same, of a reality absolutely uncommon. We will articulate, accordingly, our archeological research with a discursive approach, made possible by the notion of "fantastic", as developed by Tzvetan Todorov, in whose theory we find the possibility of a critical means from which to analyze the textual representation of such contact. Thus, by reading into the Journals "the prose of the world" and the "fantastic", we will attempt to perceive these narratives as a discursive construction of the culture of the Great Navigations in the boundaries of Renaissance's episteme. We hope, with these efforts, unravel the relations between the Same and the Other in Columbus's Journals of the Discovery of America, which abide as the basal ground of these accounts, providing for a demonstration of certain characteristics of Renaissance's episteme, since we will attempt to situate the Age of Discovery in its historical and epistemological context. Furthermore, we intend to develop and apply aesthetics criteria to the Journals in what concerns the relationship between a discourse and the society in which it is produced. (AU)

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