Cartographic Humanism: Defining Early Modern Europe, 1480–1580
We tend to equate early modern Europe with Western Europe. Yet the continent’s boundaries were far more fluid—indeed, they were constantly in the making. Katharina Piechocki’s project calls for a reevaluation of Europe’s boundaries through the lens of cartography, philology, and translation as interlocking practices. Studied together, they provide a unique lens to rethink the categories and terms usually applied to defining Europe. Conversely, a broader understanding of Europe offers a new framework to rethink the articulations of space and language as Renaissance humanism’s building blocks. By bringing current discussions on mapping and the “spatial turn” into dialogue with philology and translation, Piechocki’s project reexamines the relationship between cartography and language. “Cartographic Humanism” investigates authors who have not yet been studied together: Geoffroy Tory (France), Conrad Celtis (Germany), Maciej Miechowita (Poland), Girolamo Fracastoro (Italy), and Luís de Camões (Portugal).
Katharina Piechocki is an assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from New York University and a Doctorate in Romance Studies from the University of Vienna. A former fellow at Stanford’s Humanities Center, she is now completing her book, Cartographic Humanism: Defining Early Modern Europe, 1480–1580.
“Cartographic Translation: Reframing Leonardo Bruni’s De interpretatione recta (1424)," in: I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance, forthcoming Spring 2017; “Erroneous Mappings: Ptolemy and the Visualization of Europe’s East," in: Karen Newman and Jane Tylus (ed.), Early Modern Cultures of Translation, Philadelphia 2015, pp.76–96; “Kartographische Inszenierungen. Berge, Flüsse und das Wissen um die frühneuzeitlichen Ränder Osteuropas,“ in: Michael Rössner et.al. (ed.), Inszenierung und Gedächtnis, Bielefeld 2014, pp. 91–111.
“What is Europe?” is a question that is as relevant and urgent now as it was in the Renaissance. Studying Europe’s multifaceted past allows us to view the present in a more informed and nuanced light. By looking at cartography and literature, this talk shows that defining Europe was much more complex than we typically think.