April 16th @ 6:00 PM – Book History Colloquium: “The Geography of History: Plotting Columbus in Map and Narrative”


Geography of History

 Lindsay Van Tine, Ph.D. Candidate in English, Columbia University

Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Butler Library, Room 523

In the nineteenth century, an era in which geography was held to be the “eye of history,” books ranging from Bibles to exploration narratives included prominent fold-out maps. Yet modern scholarly editing and digitization practices have made these crucial paratexts invisible to most readers, and even book historians have tended to overlook them as the province of cartographic history. Taking the fold-out maps appended to Washington Irving’s A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (1828) as a case study, this talk will explore their material and formal features to shed new light on the geopolitics of Irving’s bestselling work. The maps reconstruct Columbus’ transatlantic routes on the basis of fifteenth-century documents recovered from Spain’s imperial archives and plot these routes on the most up-to-date, scientifically-surveyed hydrographic charts, thus materializing the legacy of “discovery” by collapsing past and present into a single geographic frame. Maps like these have much to show us about the material links between book and map printing, the relation of narrative history to geography, and the spatial imaginaries of the nineteenth-century Atlantic World.


Lindsay Van Tine is a Ph.D. Candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University specializing in American literatures to 1865, with a particular focus on entangled Atlantic World colonialisms, New World historiography, Anglo-American proprietary authorship, and archival accumulation in the United States. She is currently completing a dissertation entitled “Translated Conquests: Archive, History, and Territory in Hemispheric American Literatures, 1823-1854,” which bridges hemispheric studies and book history to explore the process by which the United States claimed New World history and territory through the material archive of Spanish empire. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture at the University of Virginia.


The Book History Colloquium at Columbia University, open to any discipline, aims to provide a broad outlet for the scholarly discussion of book history, print culture, the book arts, and bibliographical research, and (ideally) the promotion of research and publication in these fields. Our presenters include Columbia faculty members and advanced graduate students, and scholars of national prominence from a range of institutions.

Questions? Email Karla Nielsen.


All sessions take place 6pm in 523 Butler Library, Columbia Morningside Campus, unless otherwise noted.