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Chapter 10 - Compasses

from Part II - Developments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2023

Adam Hammond
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

This chapter deals with literary appropriations of navigation technologies in Early Modern England. It focuses on two kinds of compasses: those that trace circles and those that point to magnetic north. Invented in around 200 BCE in China, the magnetic compass came into use in Europe in the early thirteenth century; by the sixteenth century, metaphorical employments of navigation technologies were widespread in English literature. Barrett reads the literary engagements of John Milton, John Donne, and others with both kinds of compasses to demonstrate how the devices served both to amaze and also to reorient the colonial geographic imagination of early modern readers. As she argues, “With the era of European exploration (and its associated colonial projects), the compass became virtually synonymous, for professional pilots and laypeople alike, with navigation – and wonder.”

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Compasses
  • Edited by Adam Hammond, University of Toronto
  • Book: Technology and Literature
  • Online publication: 30 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108560740.013
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  • Compasses
  • Edited by Adam Hammond, University of Toronto
  • Book: Technology and Literature
  • Online publication: 30 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108560740.013
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Compasses
  • Edited by Adam Hammond, University of Toronto
  • Book: Technology and Literature
  • Online publication: 30 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108560740.013
Available formats
×