Skip to main content

Geography Unbound

French Geographic Science from Cassini to Humboldt

Geography Unbound

French Geographic Science from Cassini to Humboldt

At the end of the eighteenth 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 Encyclopédie and the Jesuit and military colleges.

Geography Unbound presents an insightful portrait of a crucial period in the development of modern geography, whose unstable disciplinary status is still very much an issue today.

451 pages | 8 halftones, 4 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 1999

Geography: Cultural and Historical Geography

History: European History

History of Science

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Part One: Geography’s Crisis
One: The Nature of Eighteenth-Century Geography: Cartographic and Textual Description
Two: Geography’s Loss of Direction and Status
Part Two: Reaction and Continuity
Three: Universal Description
Four: The Powerful Mapping Metaphor
Five: Handmaiden to Power
Part Three: Innovation on the Margins
Six: Explaining the Social Realm
Seven: Innovation in Natural Geography
Eight: Tough-Minded Historical Geography
Godlewska/Geography Unbound-contents 1

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press