By Robert J. Mayhew (auth.)
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Extra info for Enlightenment Geography: The Political Languages of British Geography, 1650–1850
The three authors taken together show an attachment to the established church and state, but no detailed agreement as to what that ‘establishment’ was, or where precisely ‘orthodoxy’ lay. This shows that if the political languages of geography books were predominantly defences of orthodoxy, not only could they be appropriated by subversive readings (as in the case of Bohun), but also that the conception of ‘orthodoxy’ was unstable over time. Indeed, ‘orthodoxy’ was as much a rhetorical term of approbation in the political language of these works as a definable political reality.
General geography was centred on acquiring knowledge about the situation of places in terms of their longitude and latitude, a task which was normally viewed, following Ptolemy, as a mathematical one. Within a situation, special geography (which is the focus of the present study) then acquired further useful information about the natural and human worlds in the manner exemplified by Strabo. Geography’s task, as represented in these definitions, was to determine relative location upon the earth and to describe the phenomena to be found in those locations.
44 Given, as we have seen, that the practice of history was inextricably bound up with political discourse in the period, geography’s role as the ‘eye’ of history made it a facilitator of politics. If we turn from geography’s self-proclaimed scholarly audience to its actual readers, we find that the grammar schools did teach geography as part of a curriculum centred on the classics. It was argued that to read the classical historians profitably required an understanding of the location of the places they referred to.
Enlightenment Geography: The Political Languages of British Geography, 1650–1850 by Robert J. Mayhew (auth.)
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