Hakluyt Society Essay Prize 2018 (deadline 30 November 2017)

The Hakluyt Society is pleased to announce the 2018 edition of the

Hakluyt Society Essay Prize

For the fourth year in succession, the Hakluyt Society awards its annual Essay Prize of £750. The prize will be presented, if possible, at the Society’s Annual General Meeting in London in June 2018, and winners will be invited to present their research at the Hakluyt Society Symposium in 2019. Winners will also receive a one-year membership of the Hakluyt Society. The Society hopes that the winning essay will be published, either in the Society’s online journal or in a recognised academic journal.

Prize winners agree to acknowledge the receipt of their award in any future publication of the Prize essay. In addition, they will be expected to contribute to the Society’s public dissemination as appropriate. This may include, but is not limited to, presenting a paper at the Hakluyt Society Symposium and contributing to the Hakluyt Society blog. Previous winners were Owain Lawson (2015), Nailya Shamgunova (2016), and Annemarie Mclaren (2017). You can read about their winning essays herehere and here.


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Eligibility criteria

The competition is open to any registered graduate student at a higher education institution (a university or equivalent) or to anyone who has been awarded a (post-)graduate degree in the past three years. Proof of student status or of the date of a degree must accompany any submission. Allowance can be made for parental leave.

Scope and subject matter

Before considering the submission of an essay, entrants should visit the Hakluyt Society’s website to make themselves aware of the objectives of the Society and the scope and nature of its publications. Essays should be based on original research in any discipline in the humanities or social sciences, and on an aspect of the history of travel, exploration and cultural encounter or their effects, in the tradition of the work of the Society.

Essays should be in English (except for such citations in languages other than English as may appear in footnotes or endnotes) and between 6,000 and 8,000 words in length (including notes, excluding bibliography). Illustrations, diagrams and tables essential to the text fall outside the word count. Submissions should be unpublished, and not currently in press, in production or under review elsewhere.

Submission procedures and deadline

Essays should be submitted as email attachments in Word (.doc) format to the Administrator of the Hakluyt Society, at office@hakluyt.com by 30 November 2017. The entrant’s name, address (including preferred email address), institutional affiliation (if any, with date of admission), and degrees (if any, with dates of conferment) should appear within the body of the email, together with a note of the title of the submitted essay. The subject line of the email should include the words ‘HAKLUYT SOCIETY ESSAY PRIZE’ and the author’s name. By submitting an essay, an entrant certifies that it is the entrant’s own original work.

Selection procedure

The Judging Panel encourages innovative submissions that make an important contribution to knowledge, or a critical or methodological contribution to scholarship. The Panel and selected reviewers will pay attention to the analytical rigour, originality, wider significance, depth and scope of the work, as well as to style and presentation. The Panel comprises selected academic faculty from among the Hakluyt Society’s Council, including the Editorial Board of The Journal of the Hakluyt Society.

The Prize Committee reserves the right not to award a prize, if no submission is judged to be of sufficient merit. The Committee’s decision will be announced in April 2018.



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Neither “Middle Ground” nor “Native Ground”: Reading the Life of Goggey, an Aboriginal Man on the Fringes of Early Colonial Sydney

The Hakluyt Society is pleased to announce that its 2017 Essay Prize has been awarded to Annemarie McLaren, a doctoral candidate at the Australian National University, Canberra. As runner-up in this year’s competition, an Honourable Mention is awarded to Cameron B. Strang (University of Nevada, Reno, USA), for his essay: “Coacoochee’s Borderlands. A Native American Explorer in Nineteenth-Century North America”. Annemarie McLaren will be awarded a cash prize of £750 for her winning essay. Both the winner and runner-up will also receive one-year free membership of the Society. In this blog post, McLaren reflects upon the research that went into her prize-winning essay, “Neither ‘Middle Ground’ nor ‘Native Ground’: Reading the life of Goggey, an Aboriginal Man on the Fringes of Early Colonial Sydney”.


Richard_HakluytHakluyt_signature

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When so many Aboriginal lives slipped through the cracks of colonial records in the early decades of Sydney, the fact that one Dharawal man’s life could be traced in fragments offered exciting opportunities. From 1802 to 1836 ― a period closely following on from the arrival of the colonists in 1788 ― Goggey could be traced in journals, letters, newspapers, diaries and petitions. So his life offered an opportunity to consider how one Aboriginal man negotiated a rapidly changing world.

Yet his archival traces also offered considerable conundrums, and Goggey, the subject of my essay for the 2017 Hakluyt Society Essay Prize, has proved to be a bubbling, provocative current throughout my doctoral candidacy, part of a process of considering and re-considering, of stumbling upon and searching for sources, and of dialogue with different colleagues at the Australian National University and beyond.

A native family of New South Wales sitting down on an English settlers farm Earle
‘A native family of New South Wales sitting down on English settlers farm’, depicts an Aboriginal man, his wife and a child, near a settler’s farm in early colonial Sydney’s immediate hinterland. Scenes like this would have been common near some of the farms of the Nepean districts, places in which Goggey was found.
Augustus Earle, c.1826 – National Library of Australia, NK12/45.

 

Goggey was a husband to several wives, a father, and a clan leader. He was an enforcer of laws, and he was also a man who broke them. He fostered relationships with colonists as well as various Aboriginal people, and he harboured with black and white equally.

Goggey could speak some English and use a gun; was the lead guide on an expedition in the difficult country of the Blue Mountains in 1802; welcomed Governor Macquarie to ‘his’ country in 1810; was asked to attend court in 1814 to give information about the murder of Aboriginal women and children by colonists; was listed as a ‘wanted’ and possibly dangerous man in 1816; and was then awarded an inscribed brass plate denoting him as an Aboriginal ‘chief’ in 1817 – just to name a few of the episodes my essays considers.

But Goggey was also an enigmatic, mercurial figure, one who could be violent as well as charming, one who could be found enraged as well as dancing by fires in the moonlight.

I have been thinking about Goggey for several years now, and he has become key to my exploration of the ongoing cultural negotiations and the processes shaping Aboriginal-colonial relations in early colonial New South Wales; including the performance of authority, the continuing ways in which material culture mediated the changing social fabric, and the diffuse processes by which guiding relationships developed. As my knowledge of the shifts in Aboriginal-Colonial relations deepened, my mind would flick back to Goggey, trying to integrate whatever new understanding I had reached with what was known about his life.

With a life embroiled in so many of the key inter-cultural developments in the colony, considering Goggey’s life, the archives in which he could be found, and the negotiations they record or suggest, has richly shaped my understanding of the ways in which cross-cultural interactions unfolded in the colony as well as the ways in which power could operate.

It has prompted me to consider ‘models’ of interaction and the theoretical underpinnings of inter-cultural power in colonial contexts, and to examine ideas surrounding “Middle Grounds” and “Native Grounds” in the context of early colonial New South Wales.

SLV_Parramatta-New-South-Wales
‘Parramatta, New South Wales’, illustrates a growing urban centre surrounded by pastoral land. This place, 15 miles west of port town at Sydney Cove, was the home of the ‘Annual General Assembly of the Natives’, where Goggey is said to have sat at the head of his ‘tribe’.
Joseph Lycett, 1824 – State Library of Victoria, 30328102131561/12 

 

Curiously, I never intended to write about Goggey. Yet as a key figure in an expeditionary account I was considering, and having come across more sources in which he appeared in intriguing ways, I did look for more. This was a useful task, but not as useful as repeated stumbling upon him while searching through archival material. This was a lesson in the fickleness of the archive (as well as in poorly catalogued items), but also suggested something about the nature of entanglement in this colonial context, and that some historical investigations demand ambitious, wide-ranging, even peripheral reading ― or perhaps some degree of serendipity.

Reading Goggey’s life has also been a lesson in the value of collegiality. It was over coffee with a later-stage doctoral candidate that I received reading suggestions of more contemporary anthropology, while I had focused on reading ‘classics’ from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

These readings helped shaped the conceptual and imaginative tool-kit necessary in confronting evidence of a strong-willed, emotive and sometimes violent man, as well as the capacity to consider the ways in which relational economies ― and in fact what was considered of ‘value’ at all ― had many different configurations in the cultural complexities of early colonial New South Wales.

I am grateful to the Hakluyt Society for awarding this piece the 2017 Essay Prize. I am also grateful to those who read this essays in various drafts, and for their words of encouragement and advice along the way.


Annemarie McLaren is a third-year doctoral candidate in history at the Australian National University. Her research considers the ongoingprofile_2 Annemarie McLaren cultural negotiations between Aboriginal people and Europeans in early colonial New South Wales in a project titled ‘Negotiating Entanglement’. Annemarie has been participating in a three-year  post-graduate training scheme of the Consortium of Humanities Centres and Institutes funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She is co-editing a book (tentatively) titled Indigeneity: Claims, Relationships, and Concepts Between the Disciplines (expected 2018). She is also the Associate Review Editor of the Aboriginal History Journal.

Hakluyt Society Essay Prize 2017

The Hakluyt Society is pleased to announce the 2017 edition of the

Hakluyt Society Essay Prize

For the third year in succession, the Hakluyt Society awards its annual Essay Prize of £750. The prize will be presented, if possible, at the Society’s Annual General Meeting in London in June 2017, and winners will be invited to present their research at the next Hakluyt Society Symposium. Winners will also receive a one-year membership of the Hakluyt Society. The Society hopes that the winning essay will be published, either in the Society’s online journal or in a recognised academic journal.

Prize winners agree to acknowledge the receipt of their award in any future publication of the Prize essay. In addition, they will be expected to contribute to the Society’s public dissemination as appropriate. This may include, but is not limited to, presenting a paper at the Hakluyt Society Symposium (in which case travel expenses within the UK will be reimbursed) and contributing to the Hakluyt Society blog (for previous winners, see here and here).


 – Join the Hakluyt Society on www.hakluyt.com


Eligibility criteria

The competition is open to any registered graduate student at a higher education institution (a university or equivalent) or to anyone who has been awarded a graduate degree in the past three years. Proof of student status or of the date of a degree must accompany any submission. Allowance can be made for parental leave.

 Scope and subject matter

Before considering the submission of an essay, entrants should visit the Hakluyt Society’s website (www.hakluyt.com) to make themselves aware of the object of the Society and the scope and nature of its publications. Essays should be based on original research in any discipline in the humanities or social sciences, and on an aspect of the history of travel, exploration and cultural encounter or their effects, in the tradition of the work of the Society.

Essays should be in English (except for such citations in languages other than English as may appear in footnotes or endnotes) and between 6,000 and 8,000 words in length (including notes, excluding bibliography). Illustrations, diagrams and tables essential to the text fall outside the word count. Submissions should be unpublished, and not currently in press, in production or under review elsewhere.

Submission procedures and deadline

Essays should be submitted as email attachments in Word.doc format to Richard Bateman, Administrator of the Hakluyt Society, at office@hakluyt.com by 30 November 2016. The entrant’s name, address (including preferred email address), institutional affiliation (if any, with date of admission), and degrees (if any, with dates of conferment) should appear within the body of the email, together with a note of the title of the submitted essay. The subject line of the email should include the words ‘HAKLUYT SOCIETY ESSAY PRIZE’ and the author’s name. By submitting an essay, an entrant certifies that it is the entrant’s own original work. A copy of these instructions can be downloaded here: Essay Prize 2017.

Selection procedure

The Judging Panel encourages innovative submissions that make an important contribution to knowledge, or a critical or methodological contribution to scholarship. The Panel and selected reviewers will pay attention to the analytical rigour, originality, wider significance, depth and scope of the work, as well as to style and presentation. The Panel comprises selected academic faculty from among the Hakluyt Society’s Council, including the Editorial Board of The Journal of the Hakluyt Society.

The Prize Committee reserves the right not to award a prize, if no submission is judged to be of sufficient merit. The Committee’s decision will be announced in April 2017.

Essay_Prize_2017


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Essay Prize Series part 4: European Conceptualisations of Southeast Asian Sexual Diversity, c. 1590–1640

The 2016 edition of the Hakluyt Society Essay Prize competition attracted submissions from the UK, US, Australia, Russia, and Luxembourg. The academic committee, consisting of Professors Daniel Carey, Felipe Fernández­ Armesto, Peter Hulme, Claire Jowitt, Joyce Lorimer, and Sebastian Sobecki, has selected Nailya Shamgunova‘s essay European Conceptualisations of Southeast Asian Sexual Diversity, c. 1590–1640 as this year’s winning entry Ms Shamgunova will receive the award worth £750 at the Hakluyt Society’s 2016 Annual General Meeting, held in London on 22 June. Ahead of this event, she is glad to share the main conclusions of her prize-winning research on this platform, focusing on the contested issue of “sodomy” in seventeenth-century Anglophone travel writing. 


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** Missed this year’s competition? Watch the Hakluyt Society’s website and social media channels, as the call for submissions for the 2017  Hakluyt Society Essay Prize will be announced shortly **

My research focuses on the study of sexual diversity in a transcultural context. The ways in which people from different cultures understood each other’s sexual practices are fascinating. I used Anglophone travel accounts that refer to ‘sodomy’ in Southeast Asia in order to uncover some of the processes through which knowledge of Southeast Asian sexual practices was disseminated and adapted to an Anglophone worldview. I read primary travel accounts alongside other writings referring to sodomy – from medical texts and legal acts against sodomy to new editions of Aristotle and general cosmographies.

The broader context of my study is the issue of contact between ‘European’ and ‘non-European’ societies and how European understandings of those ‘non-European’ societies were constructed. Although its definition goes beyond Edward Said’s original thesis, the term ‘Orientalism‘ has been used to label the argument that European observers constructed an image of a non-European society to deliberately present it in a negative light.  I would like to counter and nuance these arguments in relation to the supposed ‘exoticising’ of non-European bodies (see Schmidt: 2015).

This study of Anglophone views on Southeast Asian sexual diversity offers the hypothesis that Anglophone observers of the region did not use ‘sodomy’ as a tool to represent local societies as inferior nearly as much as they could have done in the context of the realities of regional sexual diversity. Placing their works in the context of the wider Anglophone discourse on the connection between sodomy and nature in discussions of both the human body and political authority shows that that discourse possessed the necessary tools to read local sexual practices in a more negative light. Rather, a process of cultural translation of local practices into notions and anxieties about sodomy in wider Anglophone discourse took place.

My argument can be demonstrated using a case study of Anglophone explanations of practices of genital modification among men in Pegu and Siam. A large number of travel accounts pay special attention to ‘penis bells’, which the local men supposedly wore. The chief way of conceptualising penis bells was as a measure of prevention of sodomy, sanctioned by the local authorities. Both Ralph Fitch [See: Hakluyt Society Extra Series, 1-12] and Jan Huygen van Linschoten [See: Hakluyt Society First Series, 71-72) stated that the custom was ‘ordained’, and Francis Pretty elaborated, saying that ‘this custome was granted at the request of the women of the Countrey, who finding their men to be giuen to the fovvle sinne of Sodomie, desired some remedie against that mischiefe, and obtained this before named of the Magistrates’.  A later account by Thomas Herbert explained that ‘they haue beene (in foregoing times) wicked Sodomites; which filthy sinne was since corrected by a Queene Rectrix’, who, ‘vpon paine of death’, commanded her subjects to wear the bells.

Shamgunova image blog
The inhabitant from Pegu is the seated figure on the far left. Source: Linschoten, Itinerario, voyage ofte schipvaert van Jan Huygen van Linschoten, naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien (Amsterdam: 1596)

These accounts share the idea that some form of legislation was implemented by local authorities and rulers to prevent sodomy, and that it was effective, rather than the fact that Southeast Asian people were simply ‘sodomites’ and thus somehow inferior. Elsewhere in European discourse, such legislation was associated with ‘civilization’. As Richard C. Trexler argues, Garcilaso de la Vega [See: Hakluyt Society 1st Series, 41 and 45] and Antonio de Calancha presented the Incas as a civilizing imperial force, which stamped out previously prevalent sodomy in the Andes.  By representing a local authority as opposed to sodomy, Europeans could both emphasise that the role of civilization is to eradicate vice and that eradicating vice validated a society’s claim to be civilized. A similar process was happening in the descriptions of Southeast Asia. As there are no known indigenous sources that confirm the role of bells as measures for preventing sodomy, it remains unclear whether Anglophone authors were trying to translate local sexualities into their own terms or simply provide a rationale behind an unfamiliar practice.

However, the emphasis on the role of authority in eradicating sodomy, rather than on sodomy itself, is significant. It is a way of presenting the society in question in a less negative light.  A different explanation behind the practice, such presenting it as a marker of social identity, would have been more damaging to Pegu in Anglophone eyes. Prevention of sodomy allowed Anglophone authors to rationalise the practice in a way which was sensitive towards the local people.

One of the most interesting things to come out of my research was that when it comes to ‘sodomy’, it is very difficult to establish the boundaries of ‘Europe’ vs ‘non-Europe’ in the first place – for example, the most ‘sodomitical’ nations in Anglophone discourse were the Italians and the Ottomans. However, the role of religion in the process of formation of these stereotypes is ambiguous. Establishing the cultural boundaries of ‘sodomitical nations’ offers an alternative view of the notion of Europeans necessarily exoticising ‘non-European’ bodies and sexual practices. Exploring these notions further is the main purpose of my future research.


Nailya Shamgunova (University of Cambridge) did her B.A. in History and M.Phil in Early Modern History at the University of Cambridge, where she is due to start a PhD on Anglophone concepts of Ottoman sexual diversity this October. She is interested in various aspects of the early modern period in a transcultural context and has presented her work at a variety of academic venues. Nailya has volunteered for a Russian LGBT organisation and enjoys reading contemporary world literature in her spare time.


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Essay Prize Series part 3: This Year’s Result and Last Year’s Winner

The Hakluyt Society is pleased to announce the award of its 2016 Essay Prize. From a range of impressive submissions, the committee selected European Conceptualisations of Southeast Asian Sexual Diversity, c. 1590–1640 by Nailya Shamgunova (University of Cambridge) as the prize-winning essay. The Prize will be awarded to Ms. Shamgunova at the Society’s Annual General Meeting on 22 June 2016. Last year, Owain Lawson (Columbia University) received the first ever Hakluyt Society Essay Prize for his essay Constructing a Green Museum: French Environmental Imaginaries of Syria and LebanonMr. Lawson reflects on the research leading to his prize-winning essay below.


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Barritt Lawson1
Owain Lawson (right) receiving the inaugural edition of the Hakluyt Society Essay Prize from the Society’s President, Michael Barritt. June 2015, London

In September 1922, Abbé Émile Wetterlé arrived at the port of Beirut as part of the French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon’s agricultural commission. In his subsequent publications, he remarked on the astonishment he felt upon seeing for the first time the gentle rangeland of the Lebanese littoral. Steeped in biblical and orientalist representations of Lebanon, Wetterlé expected to see the dense Lebanese cedar forests described in the Bible. The absence of these forests implied to Wetterlé that Ottoman mismanagement and Arab indolence had devastated Lebanon’s natural splendour, and that France must rehabilitate the Lebanese environment.

My essay, which to my great surprise and deep gratitude won the Hakluyt Society’s essay prize, inquires into what forces shaped Wetterlé’s expectations. It investigates the diverse intellectual, scientific, and cultural sources of his belief in a degraded Arab environment and traces its trajectory through nineteenth-century scientific and travel writing to its influence in legitimating French Mandatory rule in Syria and Lebanon following World War I. I originally prepared this essay as part of my MA thesis at the American University in Cairo. It owes a great debt to the work of Richard Grove and Ussama Makdisi, but most importantly to Diana K. Davis and her concept of the “environmental imaginary.” This term is useful to capture the confluence of scientific, economic, religious, intellectual, emotional, and ideological forces at work in descriptions of nature.

Nineteenth-century visitors such as Ernest Renan, the Comte de Volney, and Alphonse de Lamartine, and later Mandatory officials such as Wetterlé and General Gouraud, had access to a great variety of textual and artistic representations of Greater Syria. These included classical and Arabic geographies, biblical accounts, and contemporary archaeological, climatological, and ethnographic science. They mobilized these sources to not only describe the Lebanese environment but to imagine its ancient natural state and prescribe methods to return Lebanon to that idealized condition. Biblical Lebanon’s dense cedar groves epitomized that ideal. Through a century of travel, writing, painting, and research, rehabilitating Mount Lebanon’s forests became part of France’s mission civilisatrice in the Levant and contributed to justifying their occupation and Mandatory rule. Syrian-Lebanese intellectuals did not passively receive this narrative, but rather contributed to its production and actively contested, negotiated, and reaffirmed it for their own purposes.

My interest in this subject emerged from my own work in reforestation, which provided a unique window into the relationship between efforts to extract natural resources and to preserve natural landscapes. Profound technological, economic, and scientific transformations over the last centuries have rearranged how most humans engage with the natural world. Indeed, many of us, myself included, can now only imagine nature as diminishing and fragile. In this light, environmental conservation efforts appear to be unambiguously positive practices. How then can we understand the discrepancy between these apparently noble intentions towards nature and the ease with which colonial officials translated them into a justification for colonial domination and violence? My intention with this essay was not to simply expose colonial conservation efforts as hypocritical, or debunk the nineteenth-century science that informed them, but to think about the longer trajectories of this relationship between nature and power.


Owain Lawson is a PhD student at Columbia University’s Department of History. His research focuses on the history of science, technology, and the environment in Lebanon and Greater Syria during the early twentieth century. He is in the early stages of developing a dissertation that explores the history of Lebanese hydroelectricity. Born in Ottawa, Canada, Owain received a B.A. from Concordia University in Montréal and an M.A. in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo.

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Tancrede R. Dumas, “Beirut Port”, Beirut, 1860-1870, Nawaf Salam Collection, Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.

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Essay Prize Series Part 2: The Manuscript Circulation of Sir Henry Mainwaring’s ‘A Brief Abstract’

In this second part of our mini-series on the Hakluyt Society Essay Prize, runner-up in last year’s competition Amy Bowles (Girton College, Cambridge) shares with us her innovative research on the manuscript circulation of Sir Henry Mainwaring’s A Brief Abstract, Exposition and Demonstration of all Parts and Things belonging to a Ship and Practique of Navigation. The earlier blog by fellow runner-up Katherine Parker can be found here and the CFP for the 2015-2016 competition (deadline: 1 Novemberhere.


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In the early 1620s, the naval officer and reformed pirate Sir Henry Mainwaring composed what is now thought to be the earliest extant dictionary of nautical terms. The Brief Abstract, Exposition and Demonstration of all Parts and Things belonging to a Ship and Practique of Navigation contains around 600 entries, alphabetically ordered with a preface, table of contents, and often a decorative title-page. Mainwaring explained the necessity of this work, writing that ‘very few Gentlemen (though they be called Sea-men) doe fully and wholy understand what belongs to their Profession: having onely some Scrambling Termes & Names belonging to some parts of a Ship’.[1]

Though the dictionary was composed between 1620 and 1623, it was printed for the first time in 1644, and enjoyed around twenty years of circulation in manuscript amongst seafaring noblemen. In one case, a manuscript’s weathered state attests to its regular use; BL Additional MS 21571 – the only copy produced in a pocket-friendly octavo format – retains significant water damage, perhaps acquired during its direct consultation at sea. However, the dictionary was also regarded as more than a reference work, and was catalogued and read alongside fashionable travel narratives like Richard Hakluyts Principal Navigations (1598-1600) and Samuel Purchas‘ Purchas his Pilgrims (1625).

My submission to the Hakluyt Society Essay Prize competition examined the twenty-one surviving copies of the Brief Abstract, eight of which were written by a single scribe, Ralph Crane.The dictionary’s manuscript circulation began with Crane’s early production of copies: his manuscripts include the five presentation copies dedicated – and in one case subscribed – by Mainwaring. It is my argument that Crane not only participated in the circulation of this text during its early stages, but that he was the sole scribe hired by Mainwaring to complete this project, taking on the role of a commissioned copyist. Crane’s early “official” copies of the dictionary were soon outnumbered by a proliferation of less authorised versions, which contained new entries, circulated under new titles, and no longer bore Mainwaring’s name.

I reconstructed the text’s original transmission through the different scribal styles and habits of the dictionary’s early copyists, and considered the manuscript transmission of the Brief Abstract in light of that of other naval works such as William Monson‘s tracts on seamanship, Nathaniel Boteler‘s Dialogues, and John Montgomery‘s sixteenth-century A treatice concerninge the navie, all of which also involved repeated copying by single scribes. By reconstructing the Brief Abstract‘s early circulation, my essay demonstrated the lasting effects which scribal transmitters have had upon the content of this important seventeenth-century naval text.

[1]     Henry Mainwaring, A Breife Abstract, Exposition, & Demonstration of parts & things belonging to a SHIP, & ye practique of NAVIGATION, National Maritime Museum Caird Library MS LEC/9, f. 11v.


Amy Bowles is a PhD student at Girton College, University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the scribal circulation of early modern texts, with particular focus on the copyist Ralph Crane. She is also interested in scribal imitation of print, and the construction of early modern manuscripts more generally, especially bindings, bookmarks, and marbled paper. She can be found on Twitter as @amy_ab2126 

Henry Mainwaring, 'A Breife Abstract, Exposition, & Demonstration of parts & things belonging to a SHIP, & ye practique of NAVIGATION'. Lambeth Palace Library Sion College MS L.40.2/E48, fol. 1r.
Henry Mainwaring, ‘A Breife Abstract, Exposition, & Demonstration of parts & things belonging to a SHIP, & ye practique of NAVIGATION’. Lambeth Palace Library Sion College MS L.40.2/E48, fol. 1r.

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Essay Prize Series Part 1: Printing the Pacific

The submissions for the 2014-2015 Hakluyt Society Essay Prize showcased some of the most exciting new research in the field of the history of travel, exploration and cultural encounter currently undertaken by postgraduate students and early career researchers. We are glad to announce that the top-3 contestants have kindly agreed to introduce their work on this blog. In this first installment of our mini-series on the Essay Prize, Katherine Parker (Pittsburgh) writes about her PhD research on Pacific travel writing which resulted in her excellent submission entitled ‘Circling a paper world’.


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I am grateful to have been chosen as an Honorable Mention in the Hakluyt Society’s Essay Prize Contest. As a student member and active participant, I think it vital that more early-career scholars join organizations such as the Hakluyt Society. New minds can bring fresh topics and methodologies, but younger colleagues also benefit from interaction with more seasoned scholars who can assess and direct their work. My own research, including the essay discussed here, owes a great debt to previous historians of exploration and encounter, and it is to them, especially Glyndwr Williams, that I credit my intellectual development.

In the paper submitted to the Hakluyt Society, I outline the major players and interdependent relationships within London that worked together to bring the Pacific to the printed page, followed by an analysis of the publication of a particular travel account, Anson’s Voyage Round the World (London: John and Paul Knapton, 1748) (see image). By tracing how information was gathered at sea and fixed in text and on maps, it is possible to see the trans-imperial collaborative, yet competitive, effort necessary to create a world on paper. Such a paper world was a vital tool that spurred European expansion later in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

I posit that when historians of the book write of book “production” they must more seriously examine the source material that went into the work, as well as the materials that make up a book. In this case, experiences at sea conditioned how the Pacific as a space was conveyed in text and engraved illustration, creating a deceptive sense of place for a readership that would never see the region. Of course, reader response is a complex reaction that cannot be controlled by author or editor, but it can be conditioned by material presentation. This theme is addressed through a discussion of the many forms, sizes, and changing presentations of the Voyage over time. Finally, the lessons learned about publishing Pacific travel accounts would serve as examples for later works, especially those of the nineteenth-century polar expeditions. Thus, Pacific exploration publications affected not only other spaces opened to imperial expansion, but also the book industry itself.

Briefly, I would like to describe my broader dissertation topic. The Pacific region was a salient topic throughout eighteenth-century Britain, especially from the late-seventeenth century culminating in the celebrated voyages of James Cook. When people mentioned the area, they touched upon discussions of overseas commerce, imperial politics, and navigational technology. As these discourses were presented primarily via print media, the Pacific had to shift from observable entity to material product negotiated through numerous overlapping networks of production, circulation, and reception. How the Pacific came to material form represents a reciprocal, dynamic system of the creation of knowledge that is at once global and yet centered primarily on a particular place and time—eighteenth-century London.

Thus, printing the Pacific is a localized history of a global process, a globilocal sociology of texts[1] that results in the assimilation of a newly-encountered region into quotidian print practices and representations. Such a domestic history of Pacific exploration, with an especial focus on material culture, has never been told.

[1] The term sociology of texts is from D. F. Mckenzie, Bibliography and the Sociology of the Texts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).


Katherine Parker is a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. Her dissertation traces the production, dissemination, and reception of geographic knowledge about the Pacific region prior to the voyages of James Cook. In 2013-15 she studied in London archives as a Social Sciences Doctoral Dissertation Fellow (2013-4) and as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow (2014-5). Currently, she is serving as the John R. Bockstoce Fellow in Pacific Ocean Studies at the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, Rhode Island.


Title page of the Royal First Edition of Anson's 'Voyage around the World'. Courtesy Mr. Colin Paul
Title page of the Royal First Edition of Anson’s ‘Voyage around the World’.
Courtesy Mr. Colin Paul

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