Fact, Fiction, and the New World: The Role of Books in the Making of America

The Young Cicero Reading, by V. Foppa, ca. 1465. The Wallace Collection, London.

When Cortés set out from Cuba for Mexico, he was told to look for the Amazons, a kingdom of women found in books but not in the geography of the real world. The availability of books and the spread of literacy profoundly influenced the discovery of the New World. Looking for people, places, and things that were described in books, explorers defined their encounters by referring to names and ideas from popular stories and ancient legends.


Fact, Fiction, and the New World: The Role of Books in the Making of America will encourage people to think about the power of stories and the lure of new found lands. This exhibition highlights the ways in which books determined what people looked for in the New World and how they interpreted what they did see. Panel topics include:

  • Invention of printing
  • Spread of literacy
  • Columbus’s readings and writing
  • Chivalric romances
  • Printing in the New World
  • Erasmus
  • Humanism in the New World
  • Linguistic exchanges
  • Maps and narratives
  • Missionaries
  • New World images in European literature
  • New World writers
  • Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz

Fact, Fiction, and the New World is organized by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, with support from T. L. L. Temple Foundation.

Exhibition Format

LanguagesEnglish; Spanish
Content10 double-sided panels (32” x 36”)
11 support legs (78” tall)
Space Requirements120 square feet of floor space ( 15’ x 8’)
Shipping weight and dimensionsTravels in 1 wood crate:
  • 46” x 26” x 44” - 235 lbs.
Rental Fee*$500*
Rental Period4 weeks

*Rental fees are based primarily on the cost of shipping. Prices may vary based on current fuel surcharges or venue location within the state of Texas. Out-of-state rentals are priced on an individual basis. Please call for a rental fee quote specific to your venue.

Publicity Materials

Press release

Fact, Fiction and the New World press release.

Publicity image

A publicity image is available for promoting this exhibition at your venue. Please contact the exhibitions coordinator to request an electronic file of this image. Please allow 2-3 business days for the exhibitions coordinator to process your request.

Humanities Texas logos

Logo files are also available for download on the logo page.

Book Now or Receive a Quote

To book an exhibition or receive a quote, please complete the online rental form.

Questions and Rental Information

Call 512.440.1991 or email

2022-2023 Bookings

City of Leander Parks and Recreation
Leander, TX

Lone Star College - Houston North
Houston, TX

Butt Holdsworth Memorial Library
Kerrville, TX

On Display

Title page to Utopia, by Sir Thomas More, in the copy owned by Fray Juan De Zumarraga, first Archbishop of Mexico. This work exercised strong influence over the first missionaries in Mexico, some of whom attempted to organize their parishes by the Utopian model. Photograph Courtesy Benson Latin American Library, University of Texas at Austin.