Atlantic Travelers ~ an online journey

By: Claire A Perez,  Department of History
May 13, 2020

Professor Ernesto Bassi and his students invite you to travel the Atlantic through their virtual exhibit, Atlantic Travelers. Learn about the early modern Atlantic world while peering into the lives of men and women who traveled the Atlantic from the Age of Conquest (sixteenth century) to the Age of Revolutions (1770s-1830s).

The site's launch was conducted on Monday, May 11th, by members of Professor Bassis’s seminar course, HIST 2010 - Atlantic Travelers. This virtual exhibition launched via Zoom, where Bassi and his students were joined by parents, roommates, other members of the Cornell Community, and even pets. Students gave a brief and informal presentation of the exhibit. Attendees were given a tour and invited to then take their time and meander through the lives of the travelers.

Before the tour began, Professor Bassi congratulated senior members of his class at this significant moment in their lives. The senior group includes James Aimer, Kyra Butler, Michael Johns, and April Townson, who are completing their history major. Other Arts and Sciences seniors in the class are CC Groves (English) and Christopher Wilkins (Economics). Bassi also thanked Leah Sweet, Lynch Curatorial Coordinator for Academic Programs at the H. Johnson Art Museum, and Virginia A. Cole, Archaeology, Classics, History, Medieval Studies Librarian at the Olin Library, for their guidance and inspiration throughout the process of putting together the exhibit.

Then, from New Zealand and Japan, Aimer and Hana Aram (sophomore, History) opened the guided tour. The student guides showed us each room on the site and gave insight into the research process that allowed them to complete this collective endeavor successfully, even while working remotely, through Zoom, from their homes all over the world.

The tour continued with students presenting what visitors can find out by clicking on the Books tab and the Travelers tab. In commenting on the books that the class read collectively, Trevor Davis (junior, Government), said: “We learned to push back on preconceived notions and, as Professor Bassi said, we shined a flashlight into moments of history and the individuals, groups, and families who traveled the Atlantic.” In their introduction to the travelers, Georgina Cedeño (junior, Biological Sciences), Matthew Burnett (junior, Biological Sciences), Hermis Reyes (junior, History), and Jack Mindich (junior, History) commented on the three periods the travelers’ journeys covered: the “Age of Conquest,” the long seventeenth century, and the “Age of Revolutions.” Referring to the diversity of the travelers included in the exhibit Bassi commented: “One of the key elements of the exhibit is that it shows that those crossing the Atlantic were not simply the usual suspects. The first set of travelers (those for the Age of Conquest), for instance, includes Francisco Pizarro, one of the best known Spanish conquistadors, but also three less known figures: Gaspar da Gama, a translator for Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama; Esteban, an African who participated in the first explorations of Florida; and Isabel de Guevara, a woman who played a leading role in conquest expeditions in the interior of South America" (the area of today’s Paraguay). To close the launch, Serena Uliano (junior, History) and Abby Fisher (sophomore, History) took us “behind the scenes” to give us a quick peek into the production process.

When you visit Atlantic Travelers, be sure to read the bios of the curators to learn about the books they enjoyed the most and their favorite museums. Their lives might have changed this semester, but their dreams and plans are very much alive.  Congratulations to Professor Bassi and his class on a beautiful and historical exhibit that promises to inform and inspire.

Note:  Photo of Ernesto Bassi on Newsletter by Jesse Winters.

Decorative Image for the website Atlantic Travelers