I have a longstanding interest in the extent to which people throughout history could access cultural production: books, music and so forth. Essentially, the economics of cultural life. So when I was poking around the University of Chicago Press website last month (previously), I was very interested to stumble across a book that came out last year: Genevieve Carlton’s Worldly Consumers: The Demand for Maps in Renaissance Italy (Amazon, iBooks), which examines the ways in which private individuals had access to maps. As you can imagine, very relevant to my interests.
It’s certainly not the only book relevant to those interests. There’s Susan Schulten’s and Martin Brückner’s work, of course; and I should also take a look at Christine Marie Petto’s When France Was King of Cartography: The Patronage and Production of Maps in Early Modern France (Amazon, iBooks). Expensive monographs all; methinks I need a university library card.
While poking around the University of Chicago Press website yesterday, I noticed that a fourth edition of Norman J. W. Thrower’s history of cartography textbook, Maps and Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society, is due out this month: Amazon. The changes from the third edition (Amazon, iBooks) appear to be limited: “For the fourth edition of Maps and Civilization, Thrower has added an additional chapter that serves to bring the volume completely up to date.” My gaps in cartographic knowledge are such that I’ve never read this book; this may be an opportunity to rectify that.
If somebody who was vaguely interested in maps wanted a book to get them started, I think I might point them toward A History of the World in Twelve Maps, written by Renaissance Studies professor Jerry Brotton. This book first appeared in September 2012 in Great Britain, where it’s now out in paperback. The U.S. edition came out last month in hardcover.
It’s a history of cartography that takes a rather unique approach: instead of providing a straight narrative history, Brotton focuses on twelve maps (or, more precisely, mapmaking endeavours), ranging from Ptolemy’s Geography to Google Earth. But Brotton does a lot more than talk about just twelve maps.
The survival of Schöner’s notes and annotations is unique in the history of cartography; not only do they show his thinking about theoretical and practical geography, but they also reveal the art of mapmaking during his lifetime. John Hessler discusses Schöner’s opinions on the canonical geography of Ptolemy, his reaction to the new discoveries of Columbus and Vespucci, and his involvement in the new astronomy of Copernicus. Schöner’s surviving notebooks, manuscripts, and associations with other scientists of the period offer unprecedented insight into the history of these materials, and into the geographical and astronomical concerns that fuelled the birth of modern science development during this critical period in its development.
Another mapmaker is getting a book-length biography. The Measure of Manhattan, Marguerite Holloway’s biography of surveyor John Randel, Jr. (1787-1865), whose decade-long survey of the island of Manhattan was the basis for that city’s street grid, comes out in February. Via BLDGBLOG, who blurbed it: “Marguerite Holloway’s engaging survey takes us step by step through the challenges of obsolete land laws and outdated maps of an earlier metropolis, looking for—and finding—the future shape of this immeasurable city.” Buy at Amazon | publisher’s page
From the publisher’s page: “Today, statistical and thematic maps are so ubiquitous that we take for granted that data will be arranged cartographically. Whether for urban planning, public health, marketing, or political strategy, maps have become everyday tools of social organization, governance, and economics. The world we inhabit—saturated with maps and graphic information—grew out of this sea change in spatial thought and representation in the nineteenth century, when Americans learned to see themselves and their nation in new dimensions.”