Worldmaking and the Project of Modernity
The prologue describes the epistemic problems of knowing and representing the world as a whole (“worldmaking”) in historical perspective. Focusing on lexical shifts in the meaning of “world” over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in both classical and vernacular terminology, it shows that metaphors of making and craftsmanship, or poiesis, are central to this renovation of the term. It discusses representative images of the world on maps (Heyns, Ortelius, Hondius-Mercator), photographs (Apollo 8’s “Earthrise”), and emblem-books (Ripa), connecting them to philosophical texts (Fairfax, Vico, Hume) that mark the invention of worldmaking as a concept and practice. The prologue concludes with a discussion of the contemporary legacies of early modern worldmaking in debates about modernity, globalization, universalism, and cosmopolitanism.
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