64th Annual Conference, the Society for the History of Discoveries. Minneapolis, Minnesota. 21-23 Sep 2023

All activities will take place in Room 120 in the Elmer L. Anderson Library on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota.

THURSDAY, September 21.  6:00 PM. – 7:00 PM.   Opening Reception   Prior to the Keynote

Lecture,  drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served in the Atrium to Room 120.

7:00 PM.  James Ford Bell Lecture and SHD Keynote Lecture,

„Early Modern Vernacular Cartography:  The Lessons of Sketch Maps“

Ricardo Padrón, Professor of Spanish at the University of Virginia, will deliver the Keynote Lecture, which will also be the annual James Ford Bell Lecture.

SHD’s signature lecture series on topics related to travel, trade, and cultural exchange in the premodern world started in 1964.  Professor Padrón’s work is rooted in the literature and culture of the early modern Hispanic world, focusing on empire, space, and cartography. His most recent book, The Indies of the Setting Sun: How Early Modern Spain Mapped the Far East as the Transpacific West (Chicago 2020) examines the place of the Pacific and Asia in the Spanish concept of “the Indies.”

Much of the history of cartography has been devoted to maps constructed by learned people who knew what a “real map” was supposed to look like, and had the training to produce one themselves.  Nevertheless, the archives are full of sketch maps drawn by cartographic amateurs, who may or may not have been familiar with more formal or elaborate types of mapmaking. This lecture explores some of the things that these “vernacular maps” have to tell us about the spatial imagination of early modern Europeans.  This discussion of new ways to consider Spanish mapping and their understanding of space    provides a perfect launch for our conference with its theme, “Worlds of Exploration.”

FRIDAY,  September 22.

8:30 AM:  Registration + Coffee, Tea, and Conversation

9:00-9:10 AM: President’s Welcome

9:15-10:30 AM, Session I: Sensory Borderlands and the Phenomenology of Encounter

Kettler, A., “The Miasmic Theft of Modernity: Sulfuric Aromata in Early Modern Empires”

Blakley, C., “Scanning with a Glass the Crowd of Natives: Sensing Race in the Pacific World”

Sriram, J. & Sriram-Uzundal, N., “The Nocturnal Bodies of Enlightenments Tradition—German Migration as Necropolitical Death-World”


BREAK:  10:30-10:45 AM


10:45 AM-Noon, Session II:  Flights of Fancy and Precarious Platts

Lewis, D., “‘Many fabulous Stories & Idle Tales’: Myth, Memory, and Madogwys in the Age of Exploration”

Towns, L., “Irish Monks, Vikings, Cabot, and Columbus”

Spence, R., “The Jesuit Journeys to Japan from 1549-1600: Explorations in Cartography”


LUNCH BREAK: Noon -1:30 PM, each one to his/her/their own


1:30-2:45 PM, Session III– Reconsidering Famous Expeditions

Kennedy, D., “Mungo Park’s Ghost: Two Expeditions Gone Awry in Africa”

Urness, C., “Sixty Years in Twenty Minutes: My View (Bering’s Expeditions)”

Schauer, M., “Dynamiting Reefs, Measuring Skulls and Collecting Sacred Objects:  Museum Expeditions to Southeast Asia in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries”


BREAK: 2:45-3:00 PM


3:00-4:15 PM, Session IV: Images of the Early Modern World

Muller, F., “Studies of the Tabula moderna alterius hemisphaerii”

Warner, T., “The Bell Portolan:  A unique 14th century text in the middle of the Compasso-Rizo portolan family”

Buisseret, D., “The Visual Record of European Expansion across the Atlantic Ocean, 1500-1700”


FRIDAY,  September 22.   5:30 – 8:30 PM


Annual Banquet on the Minneapolis Queen.  Banquet goers get the unique experience of cruising on a replica paddle wheeler riverboat and enjoying the sites of the city from the river.  Long time member Chet van Duzer will thrill us with another fascinating presentation, „Early Navigation on and Cartography of the Mississippi“.  We also will have the honor of inducting a new SHD Fellow after dinner.


Gather in the Bohemian Flats parking area (2150 West River Parkway) no later than 5:15 PM.


SATURDAY, September 23.  8:30 AM- 4:30 PM

9:00 – 9:30 AM:  Coffee, Tea, & Conversation

9:30 -11:00 AM:  Bell Library Workshop: “Eyes on the World: Cartography in the Age of Sail”


BREAK: 11:00-11:15AM



11:15 AM – 12:30 PM, Session V:  Exploration’s Gaze and a World of Possibilities

Berg, C., “The Livre de Merveilles du Monde and Gender Performance: Articulations of Distance and Proximity”

Rojas, A., “Observing the Curious: Maria Riddell and the Interconnections between Early Modern Science of Man and Modern Anthropology”

Dowdy, A., “Ghost Mines of the Southern Appalachians”


LUNCH BREAK: 12:30 – 1:30PM:  Business Meeting –Lunch provided


1:30 – 2:45 PM: Session VI:  The Complexities of Cultural Encounters

Beck, L., “Material Perspectives on Intercultural Encounter: The American Bead Ecosystem in the Sixteenth Century”

Lopez, M.N., “Syncretistic Catholicism after the Fall of the Aztec Empire”

Dries, M.P., “Beneath the Surface: The ‘Entangled Histories’ of the Discovery of Huancavelica, Peru”


BREAK 2:45 – 3:00 PM



3:00-4:15PM, Session VII:  Mapping North America’s Interior

Brown, W., “How the Expeditions of Pike, Long, and the Spanish put Colorado on the Map”

Davis, G., “Exploratory Surveying and Mapping the Sources of the Mississippi River”

Coleman, J., “Indigenous Contributions to the Corps of Discovery’s Expedition Maps”


SUNDAY, September 24.    Optional Excursion to Mill City Museum


Please join us for a post-conference excursion to the Mill City Museum on the riverfront near downtown Minneapolis. This innovative museum is built within the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, the flagship mill of the Washburn-Crosby Company, which became General Mills.  It was the largest and most technologically advanced flour mill in the world when it was completed in 1880.  Millers at the Washburn mills in the 1870s perfected a new process for milling, a revolution that made fine wheat flour available to the masses for the first time. Soon thereafter Minneapolis became the flour milling capital of the world, a title it held from 1880 to 1930.


Exhibits at the museum combine art, architecture, technology, and history.  One highlight of the museum is the giant elevator that takes guests up the Flour Tower and back in time!


We will eat lunch at the museum, and those with flights to catch may then depart (by 1pm). Those with time and energy may continue strolling in the mill district, enjoying the Stone Arch Bridge and the modern architecture of the Guthrie Theatre.


The cost of the excursion, including lunch, is $35.