Abstracts of Papers to Be Delivered at
The 52nd Annual Meeting of
The Society for the History of Discoveries
September 22-24, 2011
ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY BY AUTHOR
There’s not room in this place for both NORUMBEGA and the BAY OF FUNDY!
Paul A. Bogaard
Kristen Seaver’s analysis (Imago Mundi 1998) of the cartographic confusions and conflicts which allowed for the extraordinary “Norumbega” on 16th and 17th-century maps of northeastern North America, intersects with another confusion analysed almost 70 years earlier by W. Ganong (Crucial Maps 1930) concerning the puzzling delay in the appearance of the Bay of Fundy on those same maps.
Seaver noted that once the cartography of Champlain is available, even though Norumbega persists on various maps for another generation, enough information is at hand to fill the gaps that had originally allowed its appearance and persistence. To these two long-established analyses I only want to add what becomes obvious when the intersection of these earlier analyses are examined more closely. The only examples of what may be identified with the Bay of Fundy, prior to Champlain, are so caught up with the location and presentation of Norumbega as to generate only more confusion. There seems to be insufficient geographical space to allow for both of them. Clearing up this confusion not only permitted the Bay of Fundy to take on its crucial role in defining the geography of the Maritimes, but also elbowed aside any hope of maintaining a cartographic basis for the mythic Norumbega.
Dr. Paul A. Bogaard retired recently as Hart Massey Professor of Philosophy, Mount Allison University, Sackville, Canada. Cartographic history and the philosophy of geography have figured only tangentially in a long career focused on the history and philosophy of science. But the rich cartographic history of Maritime Canada has been central to such projects as a provincially sponsored Heritage Landscape Study of the Tantramar area; a 6-month Owens Gallery showing of 136 maps covering four centuries of “Charting Chignecto”; an 80-map atlas being produced of the natural history and cultural heritage of the UNESCO-designated Fundy Biosphere Reserve; and intensive university courses now being taught on cartographic history at Mount Allison.
Columbus's Ultimate Goal: Jerusalem
Carol L. Delaney
Five hundred years after he set sail, the prevailing view of Christopher Columbus holds him responsible for everything that went wrong in the New World. By situating him in the cultural context of his time, anthropologist Carol Delaney reveals the little known reasons that motivated him to undertake his voyage, reasons that sustained him until the day he died. Through field work at the key sites of Columbus’s life and extensive archival research, Delaney discovered that Columbus himself had clearly stated the ultimate purpose of his voyages. He intended to sail to Asia to obtain gold through trade, in order to finance a crusade to take back Jerusalem from the Muslims. In Columbus’s day, it was widely believed that Jerusalem must be in Christian hands before Christ would return prior to the end of the world, which was thought to be imminent. Columbus believed he had an important role to play in this apocalyptic drama. Delaney shows him to have been neither the greedy imperialist nor a ruthless adventurer, as he has lately been depicted, but a man driven by an abiding religious passion.
Carol Delaney has an A.B. from Boston University, an M.T.S. Harvard Divinity School, and Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago. Currently, she is emerita professor from Stanford University where she taught for many years and is Invited Research Scholar at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. For two years she conducted her initial anthropological fieldwork in a remote Turkish village which resulted in The Seed and the Soil: Gender and Cosmology in Turkish Village Society. One of her other books, Abraham on Trial: the Social Legacy of Biblical Myth, inspired an opera. She only became interested in Columbus in the fall of 1999. While teaching a class called "Millennnial Fever" to observe the frenzy gripping the US over the turn of the millennium and explore the history of Christian millennialism, she came across a reference to Columbus's apocalyptic, millennial beliefs and was hooked. Her book, Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem, has just been published by the Free Press of Simon and Schuster.
The Gulf Stream, From Early Charts to Seaward Boundary
Louis De Vorsey
In her ground-breaking book, The Sea Around Us, Rachel Carson found the most majestic of the earth's phenomena to be the great currents of the ocean—her “planetary currents.” Chief among them is the Gulf Stream. There can be no doubt that the complex of currents known as the Gulf Stream remains one of the most intriguing and baffling dynamic systems on our planet. Since Ponce de Leon first described his encounter with its swift flow in 1513, scores of navigators, philosophers and scientists have speculated or theorized concerning it. What is surprising is how long it took for the Gulf Stream to be understood well enough to be discovered as an ocean-wide phenomenon. Crucial in that discovery were the first charts to show the Gulf Stream as a continuous and integrated feature in the sea between America and Europe. In this paper the pioneer charting of the Gulf Stream is reviewed. The work of Benjamin Franklin will be shown to have stimulated Thomas Jefferson to undertake the effort to see the Gulf Stream mark the limit of United States authority in the Atlantic.
Professor Emeritus Louis De Vorsey is a Fellow and past president of the Society for the History of Discoveries. He resides in Georgia and New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife Rosalyn. He earned the A.B. Degree at Montclair University, the M.A. Degree at Indiana University and the Ph.D. Degree at University College London. Among his honors he holds two prestigious awards from the Association of American Geographers and the Medal for Recognition of Research Creativity in the Social Sciences from University of Georgia Research Foundation. He has authored or coauthored fourteen books, thirty-three chapters or parts of books as well as forty-seven scholarly articles. He saw active duty with the Navy during the Cold War and holds the rank of Commander in the Retired Reserve.
The Surveying & Mapping of New England:
How They Became Inseparable
David C. Garcelon
Early maps of New England’s coast and its bordering lands have two distinguishing features. First, they are beautiful; second, they are highly inaccurate. During the time period when the maps were created, both the people who made them and the explorers who used them were aware of these facts. The maps were constantly changing in details and accuracy as each mapmaker drew his own version of each map. Due to their inaccuracy, the original New England coastline maps had limited utility. Today, those we find have a rare beauty that compensates for their inaccuracies. The singular originality and delicacy of those early maps of New England make the highly accurate but comparatively plain maps of today of little or no interest to the avid collector.
In the 18th century the economic development of the Atlantic Coast of America had a profound effect on the surveying and mapping of America. Commerce could not tolerate inaccuracies in boundaries or accounts. Of course, maps could not be accurate without the data compiled by surveyors. The colonists steadily improved the theory and practice of surveying and mapping. These increased skills were influential in determining the methods used in the Public Land Survey system promoted by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington. This paper will describe the changes in surveying and mapping in New England from the very first maps to the present day.
Mr. Garcelon has lived in New England all of his life. His family came to America from France in the 1760’s and were among the original settlers of Lewiston, Maine. Garcelon Field at Bates College is named for his great- great- grandfather, Alonzo Garcelon, who was Governor of Maine in 1879. Mr. Garcelon studied Forest Management at the University of Massachusetts and has spent 47 years as a land surveyor and civil engineer in the New England area. Approximately 25 years ago, Mr. Garcelon began to compile a large research library on surveying, mapping, and surveying instrumentation, and has lectured and written on these subjects. Mr. Garcelon has retired and now devotes his time to his research, writing, consulting, and selling antique scientific instruments.
The Maps of 66: How Roadmaps Built an American Legend
The Dust Bowl drove vast numbers of people out of the Plains states and toward California and all it promised. Certainly not all of them traveled along Route 66, but many did and it was this route that John Steinbeck immortalized in The Grapes of Wrath as the Mother Road, the trail of the Okies. Where downtrodden migrants traveled in the depths of the Depression, affluent post-war drivers sped in the late 40s and 50s, drawn in part by the popularity of Bobby Troup’s hit song and in part by the allure of the California depicted by Hollywood. Even those who weren’t actually moving along 66 itself were there in spirit as it came to be the embodiment of the great American road trip. My contribution to this conference is the online exhibition created for the Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine which examines the connection between road maps and the legendary Route 66. Road maps are, on the whole, neglected artifacts that have the potential to say much about the society that produced them. Contained on their pages is a condensed version of the narrative that tells people why they travel and what to see while on the road. By looking closely at the maps of Route 66, we find not only a road but an entire marketing system designed to sell a particular route as well as a variety of products and social values: in short, we find mythmaking at work.
Road maps as we now know them came into existence in the 1920s and 30s. Prior to that time, size and the types of information included on maps varied widely based on the publisher of the individual maps. At about the same time that Route 66 was commissioned, however, standardization occurred to produce the style of maps still in circulation today. Also at this time, automobile travel increased throughout the United States. Despite the Depression, car ownership was widespread and a source of pride for many middle class Americans. As a result of that, road maps were everywhere, guiding people from one stop to the next on their journeys, and contributing to the myth of roads such as Route 66 as well as the production of a national myth surrounding automobile travel.
More than just points on a road, modern road maps began promoting destinations, parks, and attractions to passing motorists, encouraging them to experience the essential elements of a trip between two specific locales. Route 66 was peppered with meaningful sites which contributed to the mystique surrounding the road and the popularization of many of the nation’s “must see” landmarks. Today, more than a quarter century after its official decommissioning, Route 66 lives on in the collective consciousness of America. The road may no longer be there, but all that it stood for--a snow free winter route, the limitless possibility of the open road, the idealism of western expansion--live on, preserved in celluloid and song and in the spirit of every cross-country road trip. Road maps earlier contributed to making this important modern American mythology.
Lucinda Hannington is a MA candidate in the American & New England Studies program at the University of Southern Maine, focusing on Public History. A native of Vermont, she intends to remain in New England upon completion of her degree in December 2011, pursuing a career in the museum field. As an undergraduate student, Lucinda studied abroad in London, where she got her first taste of museum work as an intern at the Charles Dickens Museum. Currently, she works as a graduate assistant at the Osher Map Library where her primary task is assisting with upcoming exhibitions. Her personal interests are in nineteenth-century social history, which she is exploring in research based internships with Victoria Mansion (summer 2011), the Maine Historical Society (fall 2011), and by working as a docent at the Portland Observatory.
The Birth of the Monsoon Winds: On the Existence and Understanding of Hippalus,Hippalus survives in history as the discoverer of the trade route following the seasonal monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean during the 1st century AD. The route allowed sailing vessels to run before the wind from the mouth of the Arabian Sea to the southern ports of India during the summer, and return with the winter monsoon. His stature as a skilful navigator is associated with the riches this discovery brought to Rome and the western world at the time. This research reviews the surviving primary evidence of Hippalus, and questions the prestige he has been accorded in the modern historiography. Specifically, it raises questions about the explorer’s absence from texts where he might be expected, and his fumbled inclusion in those texts that do give him mention. I conclude that there is scant record of Hippalus’ actual existence, and question the foundation of his continued recognition as a great discoverer. The fact remains that the name continues to be associated with navigational and trade innovation. Despite the patchy historical record of the man, the surviving myth has real value in interpreting and understanding the conceptualization of distant trade by Greco-Romans who might never have been directly exposed to those lands. Hippalus’ variable treatment in the contemporary texts, and a reading of the modern interpretations of his life are used to put forward a ‘foundation myth’ as the source of his subsequent posterity. Even though it is difficult to prove the life of Hippalus the man, it appears that in the history of Greco-Roman trade and its understanding of the linkage with a distant India; that the myth of Hippalus might be of greater importance than the existence of the man himself by providing clues to the understanding of distant lands by ancient western society.
and the ‘Discovery’ of the Apogeous Trade Winds
Scott Vincent Hatcher
Scott Hatcher is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he completed a B.A. with double majors in Music and History. He went on to acquire an Advanced Graduate Diploma in Remote Sensing and GIS at the Centre of Geographic Sciences in Lawrencetown, N.S. He began an M.Sc. in Geography at Memorial University in St. John’s Newfoundland in September of 2010. His research will draw on his arts and science backgrounds in exploring the impacts of past and future climate change on Arctic communities and their cultures. He is the 2010 SHD Essay Contest Winner.
Educational Outreach at the Osher Library
This presentation will describe an ongoing education project at the Osher Map Library that uses map-related materials as the basis for lessons directed to school-age children and their teachers. The talk will highlight 21 new online lesson plans for Maine Studies units and an illustrated publication called the “Primer” that is suitable for grades 3-8. I will describe how these educational materials were developed from an adult book about Moses Greenleaf that was published by the OML in 2006.
The presentation will include an introduction to Moses Greenleaf and his maps of Maine. Greenleaf was involved in surveying parts of the Maine wilderness in the early 1800s and published his findings in the form of maps and statistical books to help promote settlement. Greenleaf was a visionary who advocated for the improvement of public education, expansion of the economy through industrial growth, experimentation with sustainable land practices, and the development of a transportation network.
I will discuss how these educational materials were designed to address needs in the classrooms of both public and home schools. The lessons focus on settlement of the interior regions of the District of Maine in the years following the American Revolution and address broad themes such as economics, statehood, community organizations, transportation, land use, and mapping— concepts that are central to Maine Studies requirements. I will show how these lessons have been introduced successfully to teachers and their classrooms.
Holly Hurd has taught history, biology, and math part-time to schoolchildren since 1995. She attended the University of California at Berkeley and Cornell University where she earned a PhD in Biochemistry. She is currently completing a Master’s Degree in American & New England Studies at the University of Southern Maine and has been involved in a number of historical, educational, and archival projects. She has been employed at the Osher Map Library for more than three years as a Graduate Assistant working in Education Outreach. She is the author of online lesson plans for Middle School students and a school-age book on Moses Greenleaf. In addition, she has co-authored two local history books.
World Upon Worlds: The Waldseemüller Map of 1507
No map of the world is more celebrated today than the great Waldseemüller world map of 1507—the once long-lost giant wall map, rediscovered in 1901, that famously gave America its name. The map represents a remarkable number of cartographical firsts. It’s the first to unambiguously show the New World as surrounded by water and distinct from Asia; it’s the first to suggest the existence of the Pacific Ocean; it’s one of the first to show the full contours of the African coastline; and it’s the first to present a picture of the world using a full 360 degrees of longitude. In short, it’s the first to map to lay out a vision of the world roughly as we know it today. This alone would justify the $10 million that in 2003 the Library of Congress paid for it, but in fact the map contains multitudes: it’s far vaster, stranger, more complex, and richer with information than it tends to be given credit for. In this talk, by focusing on a number of the intellectual and geographical developments that preceded the making of the map, and by showing slides of a variety of precedents for the map—some familiar and some not—I’ll unpack some of its many meanings. The case I’ll ultimately make is that the map provides a valuable multidisciplinary way of understanding how, over the course of several centuries, Europeans gradually shook off long-held ideas about the world, expanded their geographical and intellectual horizons, and eventually, in a collective enterprise that culminated in the making of the map, managed to make an imaginative voyage of discovery that brought them unexpectedly to a new understanding of the world—and, indeed, the cosmos—as a whole.
Toby Lester is a contributing editor to The Atlantic and an Invited Research Scholar at Brown University’s John Carter Brown Library. He is the author of The Fourth Part of the World (2009), a narrative history of the many voyages of geographical and intellectual discovery that helped make the Waldseemüller map possible. He has written extensively for The Atlantic, on such subjects as ancient Greek music, the change of alphabets in Azerbaijan, and the revisionist study of the Qur’an. He has also worked as a refugee affairs officer for the United Nations in the West Bank, and as a volunteer English teacher for the Peace Corps in Yemen.
Erasing the Borders of the Text in Froissart’s Chroniques
One puzzling feature of texts from fifteenth century France are their tendency to mix allegorical figures with concrete physical descriptions, for example, in René D’Anjou’s Livre du cuer de l’amor épris. This is also the case in the prologue to Froissart’s Chroniques which propose to set down examples of “prouesse” for future generations of young men. The term “prouesse” has a dual description in this prologue: it is so important that the narrator refuses to discredit acts exemplifying it by either portraying the French or the English in a more advantageous light. It therefore erases the national boundaries which separate the combatants. However it is also described as a personification who has reigned over several kingdoms in a variety of geographic locations.
This latter description functions as a sort of “map,” charting the movements of this personification from places like Nineva, Jerusalem, Rome, France, and England. Thus “prouesse” is both something that destroys national borders and is intimately related to geography. “Prouesse” is simultaneously an abstract ideal of knightly conduct (which will advance them socially more than their birth) and a personification who has lived in and ruled over finite spaces.
In the context of medieval literature, this mixing of the allegorical with the physical is somewhat new. Traditionally, allegorical characters existed in allegorical spaces such as the “jardin de déduit” in Le Roman de la Rose. This is wholly different, as this allegorical personification is no longer thought of as confined within the borders of the text but can interact with and influence real geographical spaces. In this paper, I will argue that this collapse of the literary and the geographic is an attempt to redraw the borders between textual space and geographical and historical space. Coming during the prologue of the text, this collapse allows Froissart to frame the descriptions of the Hundred Years War which are to follow as not only historical but also fictional moments.
Courtney Matthews is a Ph.D. student in the department of French and Italian at the University of Minnesota. She completed her undergraduate degree at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, and received her MA in French from the University of Minnesota. She is currently interested in the portrayal of the self in fifteenth century French poetry, and hopes to take her pre-lims in the spring of 2012.
Terra Bene Cognitae: The Grand Tour and the Irritable Tourist
From its conceptual birth with the publication of Coryat’s Crudities in 1611 to its purported “death” with the closing of the British Consulate in Florence in April of 2011, the Grand Tour has consistently maintained its position as a British rite of passage into adulthood, a mark of status, and equally an object of derision. In studying the Grand Tour, one can see the history of England and its relationship to the globalizing modern world refracted and reflected in the notes and reactions of its travelers; however, more surprising than the awe and enjoyment found in travelogues, guidebooks, and souvenirs is the equal and opposite reaction against travel. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the time period on which I will focus in this talk, the rhetoric of “anti-tourism,” or the act of publically complaining about the bad-habits of other travelers, finds its way into discussions and analysis of travel. As transportation and communication technology changed, so too did access to the Continent and its outer reaches; concurrent with these developments was the rise of middle-class tourism. As more people travelled, more people could complain about travel. By the end of the nineteenth century, most “good” tourists would ironically perform the same indelible ritual of traveling to well-known tourist destinations along the route of the Grand Tour: the lament that there were tourists there to obscure the “real” experience of the visit.
My talk will begin with an expository overview of what has been meant by the phrase “The Grand Tour” in different eras, from the Early Modern period, through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, from both Anglocentric and international perspectives, as well as account for the combative reactions against the ideas represented by the Tour by both English and non-English observers alike. Indeed from its inception, I will argue, complaint and objection were as inherent to the tourist experience as movement from place-to-place itself.
Alex Milson is in the midst of preparing her dissertation prospectus that will examine the role of companionship and affiliation in nineteenth-century tourism. She studies eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, musicology, and the modern tourist industry and UCLA. Prior to beginning her graduate work, Alex taught high school English in the Bronx.
A Web of Imperial Connections:
Some Eighteenth Century Surveyors and Planters in Dominica
Anthony Paez Mullan
At the conclusion of the Seven Years War (1763), Britain acquired the Ceded Islands (consisting of Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Vincent, Dominica, and Tobago). The dazzling success of sugar plantations in the older established colonies of Barbados and Jamaica spurred a frenzied land grab in the Ceded Islands from 1763 to 1776.
One result of rapid land investment and speculation was a substantial increase in the production of both public and private land surveys. This paper will concern itself with two quite different but related survey maps of Dominica. The first is the large scale printed map of the island (1777) by John Byres showing the island divided geometrically into many landholding lots. This map was published accompanied by a booklet entitled “References to the Plan of… Dominica” listing all landholders and leaseholders between 1765 and 1773, their lot numbers, and size of lots. The second map is an eight sheet manuscript plan of the Rosalie Estate facing the Atlantic coast (one copy of which is housed in the Library of Congress). This private survey, executed by Isaac Werden in 1776, is a detailed, topographical and richly colored plan with figures along the margins indicating the amount of cultivated land and the nature of the produce (timber, cane, and indigo).
A second focus of this paper will be the economic and social backgrounds of some of the principals involved in the Rosalie Estate and a few others who were instrumental in the public promotion of the Ceded Islands. I will thus include a number of biographical sketches based on a variety of primary and secondary sources. These will include brief biographical accounts of the aforementioned Isaac Werden about whom nothing has been published and some of the proprietors of the Rosalie Estate, which had been owned by various combinations of seven individuals between 1765 and 1773. The most prominent was Sir William Young (1724-1788), Commissioner for the sale of lands in the Ceded Islands. By including biographical sketches, I seek to demonstrate that land acquisition in Dominica was not entirely random and haphazard – that like minded individuals in government, commerce, and the military sought wealth created from land that Dominica and the other islands could offer them.
Anthony Mullan is the Fine Arts Reference Specialist for the Library of Congress. However, he has had a long and abiding interest in maps. He is particularly interested in the relationship of cartography and art. He has also conducted extensive research on manuscript maps of South and Central America. He is the author of several articles in the field. In 2005, he was awarded a Staff Fellowship at the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress to pursue his research project: Texts of Travel, Exploration, and Conquest in Hispanic America, 1500-1900: A Selective and Annotate Guide to Materials in Special Collections of the Library of Congress. He has a book contract with Mellen Press for this work.
David and Samuel Thompson's Exploration and Survey Work for the International Boundary Commission
along the Great Lakes Westward to Lake of the Woods, 1817-1827
Frances L. Pollitt
David Thompson (1770-1857) is considered one of Canada's most important explorers and surveyors. While working for the fur trade he surveyed the routes followed by the voyageurs, established an overland northwest passage via the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean and created the first map of Western Canada.
Most of what is known about David Thompson is from his own writings, especially his Journals, originally published by the Champlain Society in 1916 (compiled/ by J.B. Tyrrell) and more recently through the University of Washington Press, edited and annotated by William E. Moreau in three volumes. The autobiographical work by Thompson deals only with his discoveries and observations during his fur-trading years. David Thompson's life after retiring from the fur trade is much less well known. Additionally, little is known of Thompson's family life.
This presentation will address David and his son, Samuel's, work for the Boundary Commission, 1817-1827 by studying the correspondence between members of the Commission (located in the collections of the Maine Historical Society). The presentation will explore the difficulties surrounding the survey from Lake Superior to the Lake of the Woods, and highlight the relationship between father and son.
Through a reading of David's correspondence with the Boundary Commissioners (@100 letters) and the correspondence between other members of the Survey, a closer understanding of Thompson's life, work and family will be achieved. All references to Samuel's work in the correspondence will be noted and transcribed. It is hoped that this reading of the correspondence results in a much better understanding of the actual surveying of the Great Lakes westward to Lake of the Woods for the International Boundary Commission, the relationship between father and son delights biographers, and the work Samuel Thompson, David's son, performed for the Commission appreciated.
Frances L. Pollitt works as project cataloger at the Maine Historical Society in Portland, Maine with a specialty in map cataloging. She has cataloged the maps of the Northeast Boundary Barclay Collection (Coll. 26), the Plymouth Company (Coll. 60) and the Proprietors of the Township of Brunswick (Coll. 61) as well as many others. She has given numerous public addresses including at the 2008 IFLA World Congress, the joint annual meeting of the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives and Canadian Cartographic Association in Ottawa 2006, a poster session at the International Conference on the History of Cartography in 2002, and she published articles related to the map collections held at the Society. She is Captain-Elect for the North East Map Organization.
Art, Architecture, and Bicycles:
John Calvin Stevens and Frank Elwell’s 1892 Architectural Bicycle Tour of France
The state of Maine is well known as a retreat for outdoor recreation, so much so that it has been nicknamed “vacationland.” This title is well deserved as activities such as hunting, fishing and bicycle riding became immensely popular throughout the state in the nineteenth century. The city of Portland, Maine’s urban population center, took to bicycles in the 1880s, and was home to numerous bicycles clubs. The prominent Portland based architect John Calvin Stevens is an important figure in Maine’s bicycle history as he helped to create and sustain two-wheeled enthusiasm and culture in Portland. Stevens saw the bicycle as much more than recreation; it was an extension of his architectural craft. Bicycle culture and riding bicycles was a form of art to Stevens and he spent the defining decades of his architectural career avidly embracing bicycle culture. Frank Elwell, close friend of John Calvin Stevens, fellow wheelman, and Portland resident had begun professionally organizing and leading bicycle tours in the 1880s. Elwell took American wheelmen and women all over the United States and abroad, which lead him to become the American bicycle-touring pioneer, as his tours were the first of their kind.
This presentation explores the moment when the confluence of Stevens’ passion for bicycles and architecture came together with the help Elwell in the late summer of 1892. Stevens and Elwell organized and embarked upon a fifty-day bicycle tour of France strictly for architects. Twenty-two American architects accompanied the two Portland men on the tour where they pedaled their way through the French countryside in search of their architectural muses and simultaneously immersed themselves in the rich bicycle culture of late nineteenth century France. In Paris, they were astounded by the roads that resembled a sparkling ballroom floor and in Fontainebleau they stumbled upon a bicycle race hosted by President Marie Sadi Carnot in the palace gardens. In between each major city was deep exploration of the rural French countryside that was unreachable by train at the time. The architectural bicycle tour of 1892, crafted by Stevens and Elwell, illuminates the harmonious and unique relationship that exists between discovery and the human passions that fuel such travel. Stevens and Elwell’s bicycle tour perfected the art of joining work, recreation, and exploration through the love of architecture and bicycling—an art that was expressed most completely on the smoothly paved roads of nineteenth century France.
Sam Shupe is a student who has been a resident of Portland since 1999. Having completed a BA in history from the University of Southern Maine in the spring of 2011, Sam is now preparing to enter the American and New England Studies Ph.D. program at Boston University in the fall of 2011. His central areas of focus include late nineteenth century cultural, social, and material history with particular attention paid towards bicycle history.
Sea Monsters, Darkness, and Paradise Islands:
The Atlantic as Mythic Space Prior to the Discovery of the New World
Chet Van Duzer
Prior to the voyages of discovery in the late fifteenth century, the unknown Atlantic was described in largely mythic terms. In this paper I will give an account of those myths, particularly as they relate to discouraging or encouraging exploration, focusing on cartographic illustrations of those myths.
It is well known that Christopher Columbus never feared that he might “sail off the edge of the world,” but nonetheless in the centuries leading up to his voyages the image of the Atlantic was daunting to navigators, and certainly discouraged exploration. The Atlantic was held at different times to be empty of islands, and the haunt of sea monsters; to be swathed in darkness and tossed by giant waves. In the north the Atlantic was thought to be congealed and impossible to navigate, while in the south the hypothetical Torrid Zone prevented sailing into the southern hemisphere. Indeed, it was believed that there was a statue of Hercules in the Atlantic near the Strait of Gibraltar warning mariners against sailing further West.
At the same time, the Atlantic, like other mythic spaces, was the setting for stories of a contradictory import, of voyages to paradise islands or islands of refuge. These stories offered some encouragement to explorers, but nonetheless the image of the Atlantic was predominantly one of a hostile environment.
The voyages of discovery down the coast of Africa and to the New World in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries caused a revolution in European conceptions of the Atlantic, which was transformed from a forbidding region to a highway to riches, and this change is reflected on contemporary maps.
Chet Van Duzer, currently a Fellow at the John Carter Brown Library, is an independent scholar focusing on the history of cartography and historical geography, and his articles have appeared in Terrae Incognitae, Imago Mundi, Orbis Terrarum, and Geographical. His monograph on Johann Schöner’s terrestrial globe of 1515 was recently published by the American Philosophical Society, and he has a book about sea monsters on medieval and Renaissance maps