The Worldmakers: Global Imagining in Early Modern Europe
University of Chicago Press, 2015
Published in 2015, The Worldmakers is the first scholarly book to grapple with the challenge of comprehending the modern world by taking the term itself as its primary subject. Looking beyond signs of global transformation and their historical catalysts, I attend to the conceptual, imaginative and metaphysical challenges posed by the pursuit of a comprehensive global vision in Europe between 1550 and 1700.
My book shows how “the world” emerged as a cultural keyword by tracing its appearance across a range of disciplines including cartography, philosophy, literature, science and theology. Gathering a diverse cast of characters, from Dutch cartographers and French philosophers to Portuguese and English poets, the book describes a literary and visual history of “firsts”: the first world atlas, the first modern essay, the first global epic, and the first modern attempt to develop a systematic natural philosophy—all born of the effort to capture the world on the page. Ranging across three centuries and several languages, The Worldmakers explores how “the world” itself became an artifact: no longer divinely created, the world by 1700 is something self-consciously shaped by human skill and subject to historical transformation.
Prizes for The Worldmakers
with gratitude to the University of Chicago Press