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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A New Course at Northeastern University that will use my gift of $2,000,000 of maps from Arader Galleries.

INSH 1101:  Picturing the World (or how we came to understand what nature is)

Effective Date:  Fall 2011

Instructors:  Georges Van Den Abbeele/ Beryl Schlossman

NU Core:  Arts/Humanities

MW 2:50-4:30; place tbd

This is a course designed for entering freshman and particularly undeclared majors. The aim is to offer a multidisciplinary set of perspectives on a broad issue, in this case the invention of the natural world as an object of scientific study.   We will study the specific technological breakthroughs that enabled early modern printing in the form of books (through moveable type), art prints (through copperplate engraving), and maps (through navigational positioning and through graphic projection).   How did these technologies interface with the travel experiences narrated by the likes of Marco Polo, Vasco de Gama, Christopher Columbus, Michel de Montaigne, René de Laudonnière, Jacques LeMoyne de Mourgues, Sir Walter Raleigh, Carl Linnaeus, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Charles Darwin and others?  What we expect to find along the way is the invention of the modern scientific method, the calibration of what constitutes “evidence” rather than opinion, the development of both pictoral and literary forms of representation, and more generally, the origin of the modern academic disciplines of geography, art history, botany, environmental science, anthropology, and geology.  Time permitting, we will further examine the way modern media technologies, such as cinema, television, and digital media, are once again changing the way we see and understand the world.

Tentative Schedule

9/7            Introduction:  The Age of the World Picture (from Portulan to Apollo 8)
                                    The Print Revolution:  Books, Maps, Prints
                                    Triple Discovery:  Geography, Science as Method, Nature
9/12            Voyages of Marco Polo (cf. Ibn Battuta, Zheng He); Pierre Chaunu, “The
Disenclavement of the World”
9/14               “                 “
9/19            Vasco de Gama and Camoes’s Lusiades (the Adamastor), Cabral
9/21            Columbus 1st Voyage and Letter
9/26          “               “            (Vespucci, Waldseemüller)
9/28            Print Revolution II, History of Cartography to Orontius Finneaus
10/3            Cartography and natural depiction to Mercator and Ortellius
10/5            Magellan (Pigafetta), Corte Real, Verrazano
10/10          Columbus Day (holiday)
10/12          Las Casas, Montaigne (Apology for Raymond Sebond, On Cannibals, On
                        Experience); skepticism and cultural diversity, origins of scientific
10/17          Montaigne, Arcimboldo,
10/19          Laudonnière (Three Voyages to Florida); Le Moyne de Mourgues
10/24          No class:  project on maps
10/26          No class:  project on maps
10/31          Calvin’s aesthetics, De Bry and Le Moyne de Mourges (from woodcut to
11/2            The Triumph of Dutch Art:  Still Life, Landscape, Cartography
11/6            No class:  project on engravings
11/8            No class:  project on engravings
11/14          Drake and Raleigh, Hakluyt, White
11/16          The Scientific Revolution (Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Pascal, Voltaire: 
11/21          Linnaeus, Rousseau and revolution in botany (Fifth Reverie), Redouté
11/23          Thanksgiving holiday
11/28          Goethe in Italy, and geological consciousness
11/30          Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle:  island ecology and the invention of
modern biology; Barraband, Audobon           
12/5            The natural world and modern media (from Muybridge and Lumière to the
present):  seeing beyond the limits of the human eye
12/7            Conclusions; final project on botanicals

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