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HIS 86 — Hidden Secrets: Exploring Maps from the Early Modern Era

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 4 weeks
Date(s): Jul 28—Aug 18
Time: 7:00—9:00 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 30
Unit: 0
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Tuition: $295
Instructor(s): Chet Van Duzer
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—9:00 pm (PT)
Jul 28—Aug 18
4 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 30
0 Unit
Grade Restriction
NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Chet Van Duzer
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Medieval and Renaissance maps serve as endlessly fascinating windows into early modern culture. Through them, we see complex visions of the era, each uniquely influenced by the cartographer’s environment, interests, purposes, and intended audience. In this course, we will examine a variety of European medieval and Renaissance maps. Three principal types of medieval maps—mappaemundi (circular world maps), the maps in the Geography of Claudius Ptolemy, and nautical charts—will be discussed in detail. Particular focus will be placed on how early modern maps were made. We will learn about how the maps were commissioned and the sources that the cartographers used, both textual and pictorial. Featured maps will include 15th-century mappaemundi depicting the fate of the world during the apocalypse and Martin Waldseemüller’s famous world maps of 1507 and 1516. We will also consider the decoration of maps, with discussion of sea monsters, ships, and cartouches. In the final segment of the course, students will learn how to look slowly at early modern maps so as to unlock their secrets.

No experience with maps is necessary.

Historian of Cartography

Chet Van Duzer is a board member of the Lazarus Project at the University of Rochester, which brings multispectral imaging of manuscripts and cultural heritage objects to institutions around the world. He has published extensively on medieval and Renaissance maps; his books include Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps and Henricus Martellus’s World Map at Yale (c. 1491): Multispectral Imaging, Sources, and Influence. In 2019, he completed a David Rumsey Research Fellowship at Stanford and the John Carter Brown Library, studying Urbano Monte’s manuscript world map of 1587.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.