Thesis ID: CBB001567613

A Calculated Course: Creating Transoceanic Navigators, 1580--1800 (2014)


Schotte, Margaret E. (Author)

Portuondo, María M.
Gordin, Michael
Princeton University
Grafton, Anthony T.
Gordin, Michael
Reeves, Eileen A.
Reeves, Eileen A.

Publication Date: 2014
Edition Details: Advisor: Grafton, Anthony T.; Committee Members: Gordin, Michael, Reeves, Eileen A., Portuondo, Maria.
Physical Details: 501 pp.
Language: English

This dissertation, a transnational study of practical knowledge in maritime Europe, shows how early modern sailors acquired technical expertise--on board ship, through books, in the classroom, and elsewhere. It draws upon nautical legislation, curricula, published manuals, and extant student manuscripts produced in Britain, France and the Netherlands over the course of the 17 th and 18th centuries. After outlining state concerns and the institutions to which these gave rise, A Calculated Course: Creating Transoceanic Navigators, 1580-1800 focuses on the individuals who participated in and shaped these training programs. From the archives emerge not only practicing navigators but also their teachers, enterprising authors of popular guidebooks, and even those officials who presided over credentialing examinations. Tracing the interactions among these men brings into focus the habits, techniques and intellectual experience of participants in a diverse multinational community as they ranged across the Atlantic and beyond. By following the navigator as he negotiated local waters and distant oceans, A Calculated Course overcomes the nationalist orientation of much maritime history. This approach alters standard accounts of early modern cultural history and history of science in two key areas. First, it provides new evidence of the valuable contributions made by sailors to technical and scientific knowledge--and how these varied across Europe. From designing the nautical logbook as a navigational tool rather than an administrative one, to repurposing ineffective methods of determining longitude into practical rules of thumb, mariners did far more than simply accept the directives of land-based theoreticians. Extending recent re-assessments of the "Scientific Revolution" that accord a central role to artisans, this comparative study of the codification and dissemination of tacit (unwritten) and theoretical knowledge uncovers significant regional variation in attitudes toward technical expertise. The differences that emerged as a particular Iberian tradition of navigation spread north stemmed, this study suggests, from local economic and educational conditions. Thus, when seeking to understand longer-term patterns in scientific styles, nautical practitioners and institutions should be considered an important bellwether. This project also integrates navigational knowledge into the history of print culture and information management. It demonstrates that, far from being kept secret, and despite high geopolitical stakes, navigational information flowed across political borders with relative ease. Contemporary practitioners concerned themselves not with secrecy but with accuracy and credibility, crucial factors at a time when a typographical error could sink a ship. Ultimately, the analysis of these issues, as well as of the interactions between mathematics and memory, visual elements and textual instruction, deepens our historical understanding of pedagogy and cognition both at sea and on dry land. Not only was the trajectory from "traditional" to "scientific" sailing much less straightforward than has been presumed, but navigation turns out to have belonged to the growing public culture of information that grew up in the early modern world.


Description Cited in Dissertation Abstracts International-A 75/10(E), Apr 2015. Proquest Document ID: 1558179496.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Günter Schilder; Hans Kok; (2019)
Sailing Across the World's Oceans: History & Catalogue of Dutch Charts Printed on Vellum 1580-1725 (/isis/citation/CBB507660547/)

Book Hayden, Judy A.; (2012)
Travel Narratives, the New Science, and Literary Discourse, 1569--1750 (/isis/citation/CBB001251295/)

Book Ian Burnet; (2019)
The Tasman Map: The Biography of a Map (/isis/citation/CBB184792152/)

Book Gascoigne, John; (2014)
Encountering the Pacific in the Age of Enlightenment (/isis/citation/CBB001421627/)

Thesis Dixon, John Patrick; (2014)
Found at Sea: Mapping Ships on the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Ocean (/isis/citation/CBB001567662/)

Book Mario Dorigo; Mathieu Franssen; (2018)
Brabantia Ducatus. Geschiedenis en cartobibliografie van het hertogdom Brabant tot 1795 (/isis/citation/CBB158164105/)

Book Scott, Anne M; Hiatt, Alfred; McIlroy, Claire; Wortham, Christopher; (2011)
European Perceptions of Terra Australis (/isis/citation/CBB001201481/)

Essay Review Bauer, Ralph; (2012)
Science and Early Modern Travel Writings (/isis/citation/CBB001567096/)

Book Khaled Furani; (2019)
Redeeming Anthropology: A Theological Critique of a Modern Science (/isis/citation/CBB286484093/)

Book Wooldridge, William C.; (2012)
Mapping Virginia: From the Age of Exploration to the Civil War (/isis/citation/CBB001200638/)

Book Brayton, Daniel; (2012)
Shakespeare's Ocean: An Ecocritical Exploration (/isis/citation/CBB001201603/)

Article Allen, David Y.; (2005)
French Mapping of New York and New England, 1604-1760 (/isis/citation/CBB000640016/)

Book Hans Bots; (2018)
De Republiek der Letteren: De Europese intellectuele wereld 1500-1760 (/isis/citation/CBB866470916/)

Article Wollock, Jeffrey; (2013)
John Bulwer (1606--1656) and Some British and French Contemporaries (/isis/citation/CBB001320484/)

Book Berg, Maxine; Clifford, Helen; (1999)
Consumers and luxury: Consumer culture in Europe, 1650--1850 (/isis/citation/CBB001180539/)

Book Stedall, Jacqueline A.; (2011)
From Cardano's Great Art to Lagrange's Reflections: Filing a Gap in the History of Algebra (/isis/citation/CBB001321014/)

Authors & Contributors
Ulrich, Laurel
Brabers, Jan
Allen, David Y.
Berg, Maxine
Clifford, Helen
Wooldridge, William C.
Science in Context
Coordinates: Online Journal of the Map and Geography Round Table, American Library Association.
Historiographia Linguistica: International Journal for the History of the Language Sciences
Huntington Library Quarterly
University of Virginia Press
Brill Hes
Manchester University Press
Random House
European Mathematical Society
Travel; exploration
Maps; atlases
Sea travel
Baudin, Nicolas
Flinders, Matthew
Bass, George
Shakespeare, William
Bulwer, John
Wallis, John
Time Periods
18th century
17th century
16th century
19th century
Early modern
15th century
Great Britain
United States
Katholieke Universiteit Brabant (Netherlands)
Dutch East India Company

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment