Geography Unbound: French Geographic Science from Cassini to Humboldt
By: Anne Godlewska (author)Paperback
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At the end of the 18th century, French geographers faced a crisis. Though they had previously been ranked among the most highly regarded scientists in Europe, they suddenly found themselves directionless and disrespected because they were unable to adapt their descriptive focus easily to the new emphasis on theory and explanation sweeping through other disciplines. Anne Godlewska examines this crisis, the often conservative reactions of geographers to it, and the work of researchers at the margins of the field who helped chart its future course. She tells her story partly through the lives and careers of individuals, from the deposed cabinet geographer Cassini IV to Volney, von Humboldt, and Letronne (innovators in human, physical, and historical geography), and partly through the institutions with which they were associated such as the Encyclopedie and the Jesuit and military colleges. The book presents a portrait of a crucial period in the development of modern geography, whose unstable disciplinary status is still very much an issue at the end of the 20th century.
Part 1 Geography's crisis: the nature of 18th-century geography - cartographic and textual description; geography's loss of direction and status. Part 2 Reaction and continuity: universal description; the powerful mapping metaphor; handmaiden to power. Part 3 Innovation on the margins: explaining the social realm; innovation in natural geography; tough-minded historical geography.
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- ID: 9780226300474
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