Spent a pretty fabulous morning (alas curtailed) at a cartography seminar at Harvard University’s’ Radcliffe Institute, organized by the amazing team of Tom Conley and Katharina Piechocki.
Theodore Cachey (Notre Dame) shared excellent work about the cartographic impulse in Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch. Camille Serchuck (Southern Connecticut State University) talked about the “painterly” in/of early modern maps, esp. Guillaume Le Testu’s Cosmographie, of which Frank Lestringant recently prepared an excellent edition.
My own, rather different, contribution took this form: “Early Modern Cartography in the Humanist Anthropocene-- Some Thoughts Towards some Questions,” in which I asked, in a nutshell: given that so much work on cartography, since maps stopped being considered purely “scientific” or “objective,” relies on the idea that cartography “reflects” history (Dainville), then what happens if we take Chakrabarty’s “Four Theses” seriously for the history of cartography and relate the history of cartography not only to human history but also to Deep Time? We’re so used—now—to reading humanist cartography for the way it plots, for example, empire, or discovery, or religious fantasy, but what of geological time in all this? What of the planet-as-planet? Key to such thoughts are, inter alia, Ulisse Aldrovandi who coined the term geology in 1603 (see also here).
I’m sorry to be missing the other amazing speakers who have all shaped how we understand maps: Neil Safier (of the John Carter Brown Library), Anders Engberg-Pedersen (of Empire of Chance), Marc Shell (of Islandology), Bill Rankin (see his radicalcartography), Carla Nappi, Matthew Edney, Franco Farinelli, Jean-Marc Besse (whose Grandeurs de la terre is essential for its plotting of how the oikoumene comes to be equivalent to the whole planet), and others.
A two-day conference at Dartmouth College, organized by David P. Laguardia, provided a fantastic venue for discussion of the various meanings of space in early modern France. Tom Conley opened Day 1 (May 22) with a fabulous discussion of Le théâtre d’agriculture (1600) by the “father of French agronomy” Olivier de Serres, about whom Architectura offers this useful introduction. Tom paused notably on the book’s index, especially its entry on “Terre” (Earth), which begins “La Terre est le fondement de l’Agriculture” (The Ear is the fundament/foundation of Agriculture), revealing to what extent such a reflection on agricultural use of land counters and shapes discourses about early modern mining/extraction. (See Tom’s upcoming article in a volume from the Ecole des Chartes). Other fabulous talks on Day 1 included Andrea Frisch on the “spaces of forgetting” in the Wars of Religion, Jeremie Korta on Pierre Belon, ending with Katie Chenoweth on Montaigne-as-mountain. I began Day 2 (May 23) with a talk about “manufactured landscapes” in various early modern treaties on mining, which was followed by numerous splendid papers, ending with David Laguardia on the spatial writing of Pierre de l’Estoile. An intense and intensely rewarding two-day gathering in the fine state of New Hampshire.
Project THE HUMANIST anthropocene
is a thought archive and workspace of Phillip John Usher (NYU) at the crossroads of early modern humanism and the problems and insights of the Anthropocene. Main Research Page.
ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment)
Environmental Humanities (journal)
Resilience (A Journal of the Environmental Humanities)
All text and images quoted from other sources used according to fair use. If I have used one of your images and you would like me to remove it, please email me.