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The Self-Made Map

Cartographic Writing in Early Modern France

2010
Author:

Tom Conley

The Self-Made Map

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

In this wide-ranging and fascinating work, Tom Conley demonstrates that ‘a new cartographic impulse’ during the French Renaissance gave rise to a new sense of self, one defined in part by the relationship of self and space.

“Relating cartography to early modern self-fashioning, Conley provides the concept of ‘the self-made map’ with an extensive graphic material framework that promises to reshape how his readers see early-modern books and maps as material signifiers of self and nation.” —Tim Murray, Cornell University

This book is a formidable display of interdisciplinary learning; it offers close and provocative new readings of works by writers unfamiliar and familiar.

Modern Language Quarterly

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.

The Self-Made Map

Tom Conley is Lowell Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and chair of visual and environmental studies at Harvard University. Among his books are Cartographic Cinema (2007) and Film Hieroglyphs (2006), both published by Minnesota.

The Self-Made Map

This book is a formidable display of interdisciplinary learning; it offers close and provocative new readings of works by writers unfamiliar and familiar.

Modern Language Quarterly

Relating cartography to early modern self-fashioning, Conley provides the concept of ‘the self-made map’ with an extensive graphic material framework that promises to reshape how his readers see early-modern books and maps as material signifiers of self and nation.

Tim Murray, Cornell University

Conley has written an interesting book, eclectic in scope, concerning the impact of a new cartographic impulse on literature during the Renaissance in France. . . . The book is handsomely produced and contains numerous illustrations . . . A meaningful addition to the history of cartography.

Choice

Conley's book is an engrossing read.

Leonardo Reviews

The Self-Made Map

Contents

List of Illustrations vii
Preface and Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1
Cartographic Writing—The Relation to the Unknown—The Perspectival Object—Pictograms—The Signature—Approaches

1. Franco-Burgundian Backgrounds 24
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 62
Three Allegories—A Fourth Allegory: Archiecture, Letter, and Nation— Betrayals of Diagram and Text—A Well-Joined Marquetry—A Cartography of the Letter

3. Oronce Finé: A Well-Rounded Signature 88
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 c ordiform Maps—Gallia and the Topographical Map in Le sphere du monde—The Analogical Style
4. Words à la Carte: A Rabelaisian Map 135
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 167
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 202
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 248
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 279
The Map of Les trois mondes—The Cartesian Map—The Perspectival Signature: Between Center and Margin—A Saturation of Names

9. Conclusion 302
Notes 311
Works Cited 345
Index 363