Charting an Empire: Geography at the English Universities 1580-1620

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Dec 8, 1997 - Education - 281 pages
How did early modern England—an island nation on the periphery of world affairs—transform itself into the center of a worldwide empire? Lesley B. Cormack argues that the newly institutionalized study of geography played a crucial role in fueling England's imperial ambitions.

Cormack demonstrates that geography was part of the Arts curriculum between 1580 and 1620, read at university by a broad range of soon-to-be political, economic, and religious leaders. By teaching these young Englishmen to view their country in a global context, and to see England playing a major role on that stage, geography supplied a set of shared assumptions about the feasibility and desirability of an English empire. Thus, the study of geography helped create an ideology of empire that made possible the actual forays of the next century.

Geography emerges in Cormack's account as the fruitful ground between college and court, in whose well-prepared soil the seeds of English imperialism took root. Charting an Empire will interest historians of science, geography, cartography, education, and empire.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 254 - A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, of the Commodities and of the nature and manners of the naturall inhabitants.
Page 256 - The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, presenting an exact geography of the kingdomes of England, Scotland, Ireland, and the isles adjoyning. With the shires, hundreds, cities, and shire-townes within the kingdome of England, divided and described by John Speed,

About the author (1997)

Lesley B. Cormack is associate professor of history at the University of Alberta.

Bibliographic information