(Un)folding the map of early modern Ireland:Spenser, Moryson and Bartlett

Camino, Mercedes (1997) (Un)folding the map of early modern Ireland:Spenser, Moryson and Bartlett. Cartographica, 34 (4). pp. 1-17. ISSN 1911-9925

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This paper departs from the assumption that Spenser's View of the Present State of Ireland and other contemporary works related to the conquest and colonization or to Ireland, including Fynes Moryson's Itinerary and Richard Bartlett's bird's-eye views, map the secrets of the Irish land and its peoples so as to facilitate and stimulate their conquest. Moryson's and Spenser's texts, like Bartlett's views and the frontispiece of Ortelius's Theatrum, can be read as cartographic narratives to be folded and unfolded in a process of discovery and possession designed to implicate readers and viewers. They can thus be classed, using Tom Conley's formulation, as "cartographic writings" that exploit the geographical overtones of their titles, and rely on a particular way of seeing, the aim of which is to own, subject, and control. However different, these written and visual representations foreground the prominence of the eye/I in the processes of conquest and domination. Travel narrative, dialogue, and map, that is, become interchangeable weapons in a destructive visual and discursive unveiling of cultural and geographical "secrets."

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27 Oct 2011 15:17
Last Modified:
20 Sep 2023 00:17