Call for Papers: Exchanges about Discovery and Exploration

Terrae Incognitae: The Journal of the Society for the History of Discoveries

Call for Papers: Exchanges about Discovery and Exploration

Terrae Incognitae 47.2 (2015), 48.1/2 (2016), and 49.1/2 (2017)

Columbus’s contemporary, Oviedo, credited the man for being the “first discoverer” of the Americas; Columbus had “found” “new” lands, cities, and peoples (Historia general de las Indias [Seville: Cromberger, 1535], fol. 1v). Las Casas later linked this attribution to his own criticism that Columbus “had made taxpayers of the Indians there” (Brevíssima relación [Seville: Trugillo, 1552], fol. 192r). The verbs associated with Columbus’s conduct evolved away from ones that either celebrated or affirmed Spanish possession of the New World to include ones like destroyed, devastated, exterminated, and ruined in the subsequent tomes authored by William Robertson, Abbé Raynal, and Washington Irving. By the twentieth century, important works by Tzvetan Todorov and José Rabasa—to name just two of deep field of scholars—prefer “invention” rather than “discovery,” “the other” rather than “the savage,” and so on. As this example demonstrates scholars writing in any period reconsider past historical events according to the paradigms of the age; the approach to and conclusions drawn from research into the history of discovery and exploration vary remarkably depending upon the timeframe and the socio-cultural perspective in which that scholarship is conducted.

Is contemporary scholarship moving away from an establishment of the facts concerning the European exploration of the world—how they traveled, where, and when, and what they encountered—and toward an interest in the variety of narratives and perspectives afforded by an entire world that at one point or another discovered other parts of itself? How do we navigate the realities and dystopias, ethnocentricities and lack of understandings, inherent to the act of discovery conducted by men such as Columbus upon whose narratives and the history books they have engendered we rely for our own research? Do we answer these specific challenges by identifying and asserting new voices as well as counter-perspectives? What new consciousness might we possess today that requires us to revisit past scholarship so that we can reap new knowledge from these historical contexts? And, finally, what is the state of our discipline today; how and why does it remain relevant?

Essays and position papers are invited for a special series devoted to reflecting upon the scholarship of discovery and exploration. Early- and late-career scholars, graduate students, collectors as well as members of our association are encouraged to prepare article-length contributions (4000-6000 words) that will be peer reviewed about the state of our discipline. Specific topics might also include examples of new directions, epistemological and theoretical approaches, and trends in scholarship. Proposals for innovative ways of answering this Call for Papers are also welcome.

Please send inquiries, proposals, or completed manuscripts to the editor, Lauren Beck (lbeck@mta.ca). Submissions will be considered on a rolling basis for inclusion in the next five issues of Terrae Incognitae.