Assistant Professor of English, Louisiana State University
in Baton Rouge
Chris Barrett is Assistant Professor of English at Louisiana State University. She joined the LSU faculty in the fall of 2012 after completing her PhD in English at Harvard University; she also holds an MA in English from Harvard (2008) and a Bachelor's Degree in English from Princeton University (2003). Her research and teaching interests include early modern English literature, lyric and epic poetry, critical animal studies, ecocriticism, and geocritical approaches to literature.
Barrett has taught a variety of Renaissance-y classes at LSU, including “Sin City: London in the Age of Shakespeare,” “Top 40 Renaissance: A Masterclass in Close-Reading Lyric Poetry,” “Milton: Poetry/Revolution,” “Streaming Shakespeare,” “Critical Animal Studies: Theory, Literature, Fur,” and “British Literature to 1800: A Thousand Years of Sex and Death.” She is the proud recipient of the 2014 Tiger Athletic Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award and the 2014 EGSA Graduate Faculty Award. In addition, Prof. Barrett is faculty advisor to Spectrum, LSU’s LGBTQIA student organization.
She is the author of articles and essays on Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Renaissance butterflies, and the twinned history of ether and laughter. She is grateful for research support from the Council on Research (summer 2013) and by fellowships at the Newberry Library (May 2014), the Dumbarton Oaks Museum and Library (May 2017), and the Folger Library (June 2017).
Barrett’s current book project explores anxieties (commercial, aesthetic, and political) about cartographic materials in English Renaissance poetry: how did maps and mapping freak people out in the Renaissance, and how did the literature of the period develop new expressive techniques and genres to confront those fears? Her book examines the ways daily life in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England changed dramatically in the period when maps went from being rare, seldom-seen luxury objects to being household goods, easily affordable and accessible and newly accurate—a transformation that took about as long as it took UNIVAC to turn into iPhones. Maps were often gorgeous, eye-catching, alluring, delightful. But for tenant farmers, they also signaled that rents were about to be hiked by their landlord in the wake of that new survey; to sailors, maps swiftly obsolesced or simply lacked detail needed to safely navigate a waterway; for military professionals, maps (themselves the product of a late-medieval arms race) were strategically valuable and highly vulnerable to theft and espionage; for writers, maps were a kind of competition, heightening the value of books that included them and lessening the value of books that did not; for citizens of the realm, the power of the map to define who did and did not matter enough to be represented on the map could be unsettling, as could the tendency of the map to be used by state actors to keep tabs on dissidents. Barrett’s book demonstrates how pervasive these diverse cartographic anxieties were, and how they helped shape some of the major works of English literature in the period.
Cartographic Anxieties: Loving and Fearing the Renaissance Map
BY CHRISTINE BARRETT
@ VOL 3
ON FEB 03, 2017
"If you are not nervous by those beautiful maps you see, you should be."
In Cartographic Anxieties: Loving and Fearing the Renaissance Map at PechaKucha Night Baton Rogue Vol. 3, Christine Barrett shares how Renaissance English and European maps bewildered people of the 16th and 17th centuries. Although beautiful and eye-catching, like any cutting-edge technology, many maps were considered unnerving, unsettling, upsetting, and even terrifying. Watch to find out why!
This was "Presentation of the Day" on April 2nd, 2017.