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Mapping the New World



  • Is mapping a neutral, technical exercise?
  • What does the Treaty of Tordesillas tell us about the relationship between maps (or the need for maps) and claims to colonial power?
  • What is Mignolo's principal argument? What is 'the moveable centre'?
  • Describe the dispute between sailors and navigators discussed in Sandman. What does this tell us about the role of first-hand experience in the establishment of true knowledge?
  • How radically did the discoveries in the new world alter European mapping practices?

Primary Sources

Required Secondary Readings

  • Mignolo, Walter, ‘The Movable Center: Geographical Discourses and Territoriality During the Expansion of the Spanish Empire’, Coded Encounters: Writing, Gender and Ethnicity in Colonial Latin America, eds. Francisco Javier Cevallos-Candau, Jeffrey Cole, Nina Scott and Nicomedes Suárez-Araúz, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, 1994). This is available in google books, and has also been republished in a number of other books--search for 'The Movable Center' and you will find them.
  • Sandman, Alison, ‘Mirroring the World: Sea Charts, Navigation and Territorial Claims in Sixteenth-Century Spain’, Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe, eds. Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen, Routledge (New York, 2002), pp. 83-108.

Additional Secondary Readings

  • Baird, Ellen, ‘The Reordering of Space in Sixteenth-Century Mexico: Some Implications of the Grid’, Painted Books and Indigenous Knowledge in Mesoamerica: Manuscript Studies in Honor of Mary Elizabeth Smith, ed. Elizabeth Hill Boone, Tulane University Press (New Orleans, 2005).
  • Brotton, Jerry, Trading Territories: Mapping the Early Modern World, Reaktion (London, 1997): Introduction and Chapter 4: ‘Cunning Cosmographers: Mapping the Moluccas’.
  • Buisseret, David, The Mapmaker’s Quest: Depicting New Worlds in Renaissance Europe, Oxford University Press (Oxford, 2003).
  • Buisseret, David, ed., Monarchs, Ministers and Maps: The Emergence of Cartography as a Tool of Government in Early Modern Europe, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, 1992).
  • Campbell, Mary Baine, Wonder and Science: Imagining Worlds in Early Modern Europe, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, 1999).
  • Cormack, Lesley, ‘Britannia Rules the Waves? Images of Empire in Elizabethan England’, Literature, Mapping and the Politics of Space in Early Modern Britain, ed. Andrew Gordon and Bernhard Klein, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 45-68.
  • Casey, Edward, Getting Back into Place: Towards a Perceived Understanding of Place-World, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, 1993)
  • Dear, Peter, Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and its Ambitions, 1500-1700, Palgrave (Basingstoke, 2001), section on astronomy and cosmology.
  • Delgado Gómez, Angela, ‘The Earliest European Views of the New World Natives’, Early Images of the Americas: Transfer and Invention, eds. Jerry Williams and Robert Lewis, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, 1993).
  • Edgerton, Samuel, ‘From Mental Matrix to Mappamundi to Christian Empire: The Heritage of Ptolomeic Cartography in the Renaissance’, Art and Cartography, ed. David Woodward, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, 1987).
  • Harley, J.B., ‘Maps, Knowledge and Power’, in The Iconography of Landscape: Essays on the Symbolic Representation, Design and Use of Past Environments, ed. Denis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels (Cambridge, 1988).
  • Harley, J.B., ‘Deconstructing the Map’, Cartographica 26 (1989).
  • Harley, J. B., ‘Silences and Secrecy: The Hidden Agenda of Cartography in Early Modern Europe,’ Imago Mundi, vol. 40 (1988), pp. 57-76.
  • Jacob, Christian, ‘Towards a Cultural History of Cartography’, Imago Mundi 48 (1996), pp. 191-8.
  • Lestringant, Frank, Mapping the Renaissance World: The Geographical Imagination in the Age of Discovery (Berkeley, 1994).
  • Padrón, Ricardo, The Spacious Word: Cartography, Literature and Empire in Early Modern Spain, Chicago University Press.