The Antipodes: Maps and Travel Literature about Another World
The antipodes—the places where people stand on the other “side” of the globe from Europe—are usually thought of in comical, satirical terms; the land and its inhabitants are upside-down, offering an inverted mirror for Europeans to see themselves. However, in the earlier Middle Ages, the antipodes engendered debates about the very existence of people and land in other places on the earth. Later, in the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, when theologians and others acknowledged the existence of the antipodes, the lands and their inhabitants troubled ways of thinking about the world. This presentation will briefly describe the earlier debates about the antipodes before exploring how the antipodes challenged the medieval geographical theories of Roger Bacon and others, the representation of the world on mappaemundi such as Lambert of St. Omer’s Liber floridus, and the discussions of circumnavigation in Caxton’s and Mandeville’s texts. Rather than reflecting Others for Europe’s conceptions of itself, the antipodes and antipodeans challenged epistemologies about the earth.
Matthew Goldie is Associate Professor of English at Rider University. He is the author of Middle English Literature: An Historical Sourcebook (Blackwell, 2003 & 2006), articles on Thomas Hoccleve and late-medieval drama, and a forthcoming book on the antipodes.
Friday, March 6, 2009, 7:30 PM
CUNY Graduate Center (365 Fifth Ave. @ 34th St.) Room C197
Reception, with wine and cheese, follows in Room 5109.
***PLEASE NOTE CHANGE IN ROOMS***