Tracing Courses, Training Sailors

Research Seminar

  • Online event via Zoom
  • Date: Feb 24, 2021
  • Time: 15:00 - 17:00
  • Speaker: Margaret E. Schotte
  • Contact: boehm@biblhertz.it
Tracing Courses, Training Sailors
Early modern navigators flocked to classrooms in port cities — but what did they learn there that they could not pick up aboard ship, or from the many textbooks in circulation in the 17th and 18th centuries?

This lecture will examine Dutch, English, and French nautical manuals and manuscript workbooks to recover specific classroom exercises. By analyzing these diagrams, we can learn which elements of celestial navigation were most challenging, and how images could help mariners grasp confusing concepts. Students were expected to chart out traverse courses, a quotidian task made more comprehensible by visual strategies. These elaborate diagrams effectively served as bridges between textbook theory and daily practices at sea.

Margaret E. Schotte is associate professor of history at York University (Toronto). Her prize-winning Sailing School: Navigating Science and Skill, 1550-1800 (2019) brings together maritime history, the history of science, and book history.


For participation via Zoom, please register HERE.

Scientific organization: Sietske Fransen



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