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The Self-Made Map: Cartographic Writing in Early Modern France


The Self-Made Map: Cartographic Writing in Early Modern France Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Self-Made Map argues that during the Renaissance in France a "new cartographic impulse" affected both the "graphic and imaginary forms of literature." In this wide-ranging and fascinating work, Tom Conley demonstrates that as new maps were plotted during this period, a new sense of self emerged, one defined in part by the relationship of the self to space.

Conley traces the explosion of interest in mapmaking that occurred with the discovery of the New World, and discusses the commensurate rise of what he defines as cartographic writing-writing that "holds, penetrates, delineates, and explores space." Considering the works of such writers as Rabelais, Montaigne, and Descartes, Conley provides a "navigation" through the printed page, revealing the emerging values of Renaissance France. In his examination of the placing of words, letters, and graphic elements in books, he exposes the playful and sometimes enigmatic relation between spatial organization and text.

Conley also exposes the ideological exercise inherent in mapmaking, arguing that Renaissance cartography is inseparably bound up with the politics of the era. He undertakes close readings of maps and illustrations, discussing the necessity of viewing Renaissance maps in the context of their typographic layout, graphic reproduction, and literary and ideological import.

Richly illustrated throughout, The Self-Made Map combines studies of art, geography, history, literature, and printing to show a clear historical transformation, along the way linking geographical discoveries, printing processes, and political awareness. Conley's provocative analysis discloses how early modern printed literature and cartography worked together to crystallize broader issues engaging the then emergent status of cultural identity, nation, and individuality.

Book News Annotation:

This is a paperbound reprint of a work first published in 1996. Conley (Romance languages and literatures, visual and environmental studies, Harvard U.) brings an interdisciplinary approach to this study, which draws on his research in early modern French literature, the history of cartography, and readings in psychoanalysis. Observing that "the arts of the Renaissance are due to various and always mobile articulations of space" and that "[i]n that age, as it seems in no other, writings are spatially conceived," he explains the basis of his study, essentially looking at how writing is mapped and how it maps--both the interior and exterior world. The study traverses the realms of art, geographical discoveries, history, literature, printing processes, and political awareness. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


Illuminates the connection between literature, identity, and mapmaking in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century France..

About the Author

Tom Conley is Lowell Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and chair of visual and environmental studies at Harvard University.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgments


Cartographic Writing-The Relation to the Unknown-The Perspectival Object-Pictograms-The Signature-Approaches

1. Franco-Burgundian Backgrounds

Some Figural Relations with Space: A French Model: Jean Fouquet-Wit and Rivalry: The Portrait of Guillaume Juvénal des Oursins-A Nascent Grid of Narrative-A Poetic map: Jean Molinet

2. The Letter and the Grid: Geoffroy Tory

Three Allegories-A Fourth Allegory: Architecture, Letter, and Nation- Betrayals of Diagram and Text-A Well-Joined Marquetry-A Cartography of the Letter

3. Oronce Finé: A Well-Rounded Signature

A Craftsman's Adolescence-The Finé Animal: A Face and a Strategy (Voyage à la terre sainte)-From Signature to Self-Portrait-From Portrait to Self-Made Identity: The Protomathesis-The Heart of the World: The cordiform Maps-Gallia and the Topographical Map in Le sphere du monde-The Analogical Style

4. Words à la Carte: A Rabelaisian Map

Beginnings-Tourism-The Itinerary: Notable Places-Encounters of the First Kind-Reprieve: Spaces to Listen-A City Named Parr rys-Words à la Carte-Rabelais and the "Cordiform" Text

5. An Insular Moment: From Cosmography to Ethnography

A Topography of the Face-The Isolario and Cosmography-André Thevet's Staging of Alterity-Some Fortunes of La cosmographie universelle and Its Ethnography

6. An Atlas Evolves: Maurice Bouguereau, Le theater françoys

The Idea of a National Atlas-Iconography: The Title Page and Opening Pages-Bouguereau's Maps-Maps and Texts Compared: Nicolaï and Symeone-An Atlas of Rivers: Chorography, Potamography, and the Image of a Nation-The Signature: Bouguereau's Vanishing Point

7. Montaigne: A Political Geography of the Self

A Book Engineered-The Book as a Cardinal Form-The Politics of "Des cannibals"-Fumée's Gómara and "Des coches"

8. La Poelinière and Descartes: Signatures in Perspective

The Map of Les trois mondes-The Cartesian Map-The Perspectival Signature: Between Center and Margin-A Saturation of Names

9. Conclusion


Works Cited


Product Details

Conley, Tom
University of Minnesota Press
General History
Literary Criticism : General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
9 x 6 x 1 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Geography » General
History and Social Science » Geography » Mapping and Cartography
History and Social Science » World History » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

The Self-Made Map: Cartographic Writing in Early Modern France New Trade Paper
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Product details 392 pages University of Minnesota Press - English 9780816674480 Reviews:
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Illuminates the connection between literature, identity, and mapmaking in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century France..
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