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Looking Slowly at Early Modern Maps

Map of the world (1550)
Friday, February 22, 2019
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Chet Van Duzer
Medieval and Renaissance Studies Workshop

This 90 minute mini-course shows how to look slowly and deliberately at maps. It demonstrates the value of applying patient contemplation to early modern maps, provides ideas about the types of conclusions that can be reached through slow looking, and shows the richness of early maps as objects for cultural study. There are maps that require a great deal of time to study simply because they contain a great deal of information, but the focus here will be on characteristics of maps that can be understood only through slow and deliberate consideration of their details. The course consists of case studies of three maps, all of them part of the tradition of nautical charts or portolan charts: a French manuscript world map from 1550 (British Library Add. MS 24065); an Italian manuscript atlas of nautical charts from the first quarter of the sixteenth century (Huntington Library HM 217); an Italian manuscript world map from the early sixteenth century (Huntington Library HM 45). Several rare items from the Rubenstein Library will also be examined.

Chet Van Duzer is Researcher in Residence at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. He studies medieval and Renaissance maps--mappaemundi, nautical charts, and the maps in Ptolemy's Geography--with an emphasis on determining the sources that cartographers used for the texts, images, and geographical features on maps. Learn more at