Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226470788 Published December 2010
E-book $7.00 to $40.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226470795 Published December 2010

Geographies of Mars

Seeing and Knowing the Red Planet

K. Maria D. Lane

K. Maria D. Lane

280 pages | 39 halftones, 6 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2010
Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226470788 Published December 2010
E-book $7.00 to $40.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226470795 Published December 2010

One of the first maps of Mars, published by an Italian astronomer in 1877, with its pattern of canals, fueled belief in intelligent life forms on the distant red planet—a hope that continued into the 1960s. Although the Martian canals have long since been dismissed as a famous error in the history of science, K. Maria D. Lane argues that there was nothing accidental about these early interpretations. Indeed, she argues, the construction of Mars as an incomprehensibly complex and engineered world both reflected and challenged dominant geopolitical themes during a time of major cultural, intellectual, political, and economic transition in the Western world.

Geographies of Mars telescopes in on a critical period in the development of the geographical imagination, when European imperialism was at its zenith and American expansionism had begun in earnest. Astronomers working in the new observatories of the American Southwest or in the remote heights of the South American Andes were inspired, Lane finds, by their own physical surroundings and used representations of the Earth’s arid landscapes to establish credibility for their observations of Mars. With this simple shift to the geographer’s point of view, Lane deftly explains some of the most perplexing stances on Mars taken by familiar protagonists such as Percival Lowell, Alfred Russel Wallace, and Lester Frank Ward. 

A highly original exploration of geography’s spatial dimensions at the beginning of the twentieth century, Geographies of Mars offers a new view of the mapping of far-off worlds.

David DeVorkin | American Scientist
“An exceptionally well-written and cleverly crafted exposition of what both speculative and mainstream science had to say about the nature of Mars and the beings that might inhabit it. . . . . The book is a must-read for any historian or scientist who cares about what, how and why, and to what extent, cultural forces shape both scientific knowledge and public reaction to it.”
Andrew H. Knoll | Times Literary Supplement
“Illuminating. . . . [Geographies of Mars] paint[s] a vivid picture of Mars observation and the ways it has influenced and been influenced by contemporary culture.”
Marc Rothenberg | Isis
“Lane has done her homework, immersing herself in the primary and secondary literature; and yes, she has definitely made a major contribution to the discussion. . . . I urge historians of astronomy and of Victorian science to read Geographies of Mars and to consider its conclusions carefully.”
David H. DeVorkin, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution | American Scientist
“An exceptionally well-written and cleverly crafted exposition of what both speculative and mainstream science had to say in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries about the nature of Mars and the beings that might inhabit it. . . . The book is a must-read for any historian or scientist who cares about what, how, and why, and to what extent, cultural forces shape both scientific knowledge and public reaction to it.”
Adam Kirsch | Barnes and Noble Review
“We no longer dream about Martians, but the lesson of Geographies of Mars is still timely: science may be the search for truth, but the way we think and talk about science is a product of our hopes, fears, and dreams.”
David N. Livingstone, Queen’s University Belfast
“Maria Lane’s arresting volume Geographies of Mars dramatically extends the reach of geography’s domain, both empirically—by sweeping the red planet into the orbit of geographical analysis—and conceptually—by disclosing the profound connections betweenthe ways terrestrial and Martian landscapes have been understood. In showing the imperial reach of early twentieth-century geographical sensibility beyond the earth itself and into the heavens, Lane has at once enlarged geography’s horizons and exposed just how intimate relations really are between the ‘near’ and the ‘far.’  In all, a wonderfully innovative piece of intellectual cartography.”
Karen M. Morin, Bucknell University
Geographies of Mars is an imaginatively conceived, expertly researched, and bountifully illustrated study of popular and scientific understandings of Mars within the context of the Age of Exploration in the nineteenth century and turn of the twentieth. Like Symmes with his theory of the Hollow Earth, many held out the hope that Mars provided a hospitable environment for both social and physical engineering. Maria Lane takes readers on a dazzlingly comprehensive tour of cultures of Mars science, whose ideas were shaped by cartographic practices of the day, American and European geopolitics, and competition for scientific credibility. The new historical geography could not be in better hands; this is that rare academic book you’ll be inspired to read cover to cover.”
Charles W. J. Withers, University of Edinburgh
Geographies of Mars is a terrific book of science fact, not science fiction. In engaging and lucid prose, Maria Lane reveals how the geography of the red planet was mapped, represented, and argued over. This is a story of mountain observatories, of fieldwork conducted at a distance, and of how Mars’s geographers sought social and scientific legitimacy. It is an insightful study in, and an important contribution to, the relationships between the science of geography and the geography of science.”
Bernard Lightman, York University
“Lane’s skillful exploration of how astronomy and geography intersected in the debates over the existence of life on Mars at the end of the nineteenth century, and beyond, makes for compelling reading. Readers will enjoy her persuasive discussions of the role of changing cartographical conventions, the construction of high-altitude sites, and the adoption of the heroic explorer narrative in providing legitimacy for pluralism. Also of note are her fresh interpretations of controversies over Martian landscapes and life forms in the context of environmental and imperial concerns. This book will appeal to historians of science, historians of geography, Victorianists, and historians of nineteenth-century American history.”
Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

1. Understanding Mars: Sensation, Science, and Geography

2. Representing Scientific Data: Cartographic Inscription and Visual Authority

3. Representing Scientific Sites: Vision and Fieldwork at the Mountain Observatories

4. Representing Scientists: Heroism, Adventure, and the Geographical Outlook

5. Placing the Red Planet: Meanings in the Martian Landscape

6. Toward a Cultural Geography of Mars: Imaginative Geography and the Superior Martian


Notes

Bibliography

Index

 

For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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