Tamara Plakins Thornton, State University of New York, Buffalo | Newberry

Tamara Plakins Thornton, State University of New York, Buffalo

Friday, May 5, 2017


Center for American History and Culture Programs
History of Capitalism Seminar

The “Use of the Globes”: Mathematical Geography, the Mercantile Imagination, and Global Capitalism in Postrevolutionary America”

In entering the commerce dominated by Europe’s East India Company monopolies, American merchants did not just trade more expansively than they had before independence; they also thought more expansively. This paper explores an obscured component of their global perspective: globes themselves, terrestrial and celestial, configured as calculating devices, along with the related discipline of mathematical geography. In colleges, academies, and commercially-oriented “mathematical schools,” would-be merchants learned to manipulate gridded spheres—physically, mathematically, and cognitively—studies that suggested new ways of imagining global trade.

Cost and Registration Information 

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically. For a copy of the paper, email the Scholl Center at scholl@newberry.org. Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.