Opening of Hakluyt and Geography in Oxford 1550-1650

Friday, October 14, 2016 - 16:30
Contact person
Georgiana Datcu
Talk / Lecture

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of Hakluyt's death in November 1616, in autum 2016, we are preparing a major exhibition and series of events in collaboration with the Hakluyt Society, Bodleian Library and Museum for the History of Science. As Hakluyt’s old college, Christ Church Library is a key site for this commemorative series and will make a distinctive contribution to it.

Events will start with this symposium on Renaissance scientific instruments opening the exhibition Hakluyt and Geography in Oxford 1550–1650. Speakers include Professor Jim Bennett, Dr Johnston and Christ Church archivist Judith Curthoys.

  • An Introduction to Instruments through the Record of Richard Hakluyt - Professor Jim Bennett (Hakluyt Society)
    The role and character of scientific instruments in Hakluyt’s time are different from those of today. Our assumptions do not translate to the late sixteenth century without distortion and misunderstanding. We can bridge this gap through texts associated with Hakluyt – either his own writings or those he collected and edited. One advantage of taking Hakluyt as our guide is that he was no specialist: his assumptions were the shared currency of men concerned with cosmography, travel, trade and navigation, even if they were not themselves mathematicians.
  • Furnishing the Mind: Practical Knowledge, Instruments and Hakluyt’s Library Legacy - Dr Stephen Johnston (Museum of the History of Science, University of Oxford)
    Hakluyt’s Oxford teaching of geography famously used ‘mappes, globes, spheares, and other instruments of this art’.  While books are conventionally taken to furnish the mind, instruments came to be part of the literal furniture of academic space. Using the devices in Christ Church’s exhibition, and the Old Library space itself, this paper considers how instruments of practical knowledge came to be integral to polite learning for the generations immediately succeeding Hakluyt.

The talks will take place in the Upper Library at Christ Church from 4.30pm. All welcome. The event is free of charge, but spaces are limited. To book a place, please contact Dr Cristina Neagu, Christ Church Library, Oxford OX1 1DP. Tel.: +44(0)1865 276 265. Email: