Columbus: A Global History
This seminar returns to the global framework of Columbus’s encounters with what would come to be called the New World and later America. Students will study medieval conceptions of the world in maps, cosmographies, and travel literature before turning to developments in both China and the Americas before 1492. Our central focus will be texts by Columbus and his contemporaries or near contemporaries: Peter Martyr d’Anghiera, Amerigo Vespucci, Martin Waldseemüller, Bartolomé de las Casas, Peri Reis, Mehmed el-Su‘udi, and Jacopo ha-Kohen, among others. Attention will be given to slavery, colonization, evangelization, prophecy, apocalypticism, and resistance. We will also explore the economic and intellectual consequences of Columbus’s voyages across time, with a consideration of such figures as Francis Bacon, Alexander von Humboldt, and – more recently – Howard Zinn.