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Sailing School

Navigating Science and Skill, 1550-1800

Margaret E. Schotte

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Hands-on science in the Age of Exploration.

Winner of the John Lyman Book Award by the North American Society for Oceanic History, Leo Gershoy Prize by the American Historical Association

Throughout the Age of Exploration, European maritime communities bent on colonial and commercial expansion embraced the complex mechanics of celestial navigation. They developed schools, textbooks, and instruments to teach the new mathematical techniques to sailors. As these experts debated the value of theory and practice, memory and mathematics, they created hybrid models that would have a lasting impact on…

Hands-on science in the Age of Exploration.

Winner of the John Lyman Book Award by the North American Society for Oceanic History, Leo Gershoy Prize by the American Historical Association

Throughout the Age of Exploration, European maritime communities bent on colonial and commercial expansion embraced the complex mechanics of celestial navigation. They developed schools, textbooks, and instruments to teach the new mathematical techniques to sailors. As these experts debated the value of theory and practice, memory and mathematics, they created hybrid models that would have a lasting impact on applied science.

In Sailing School, a richly illustrated comparative study of this transformative period, Margaret E. Schotte charts more than two hundred years of navigational history as she investigates how mariners solved the challenges of navigating beyond sight of land. She begins by outlining the influential sixteenth-century Iberian model for training and certifying nautical practitioners. She takes us into a Dutch bookshop stocked with maritime manuals and a French trigonometry lesson devoted to the idea that "navigation is nothing more than a right triangle." The story culminates at the close of the eighteenth century with a young British naval officer who managed to keep his damaged vessel afloat for two long months, thanks largely to lessons he learned as a keen student.

This is the first study to trace the importance, for the navigator's art, of the world of print. Schotte interrogates a wide variety of archival records from six countries, including hundreds of published textbooks and never-before-studied manuscripts crafted by practitioners themselves. Ultimately, Sailing School helps us to rethink the relationship among maritime history, the Scientific Revolution, and the rise of print culture during a period of unparalleled innovation and global expansion.

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Sailing School

Margaret E. Schotte

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Reviews

Reviews

As voyages stretched into open ocean, mathematical expertise in celestial navigation became essential. Hands-on instruction with instruments remained key, but as historian Margaret Schotte reveals in this deft, scholarly chronicle, the nautical manual soon came into its own.

Sailing School deploys compelling printed images and manuscript notations to reconstruct the practice of learning, a particularly difficult feat for a phenomenon that takes place in an intangible mental realm. In fusing the history of learning and print with that of navigation, Schotte shows how deep transformations in public intellectual culture built on themselves.

Schotte, in combination with Johns Hopkins University Press, has produced a beautifully illustrated, perceptively argued, well-written monograph that enhances historical understandings of not just early modern navigation, but also of early modern technical education and the lived experience of the pre-industrial maritime world. Sailing School exemplifies the kind of original work that close archival research can yield and will be a definitive work on its subject for years to come.

[A] valuable academic study. Sailing School is well-written with copious documentation.

Sailing School provides us with a technically researched history of navigational pedagogy with enough captivating prose to transport the reader into the decisions and methods of educators in classrooms from past centuries... Schotte has produced an exceptional history of education for a snapshot of time within a highly technical field.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
7
x
10
Pages
320
ISBN
9781421429533
Illustration Description
9 color illus., 70 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Editorial Practices
Introduction
Prologue. A Model Education—Seville, ca. 1552
Chapter One. From the Water to the Writing Book—Amsterdam, ca.
Chapter Two. "By the Shortest Path": Developing

Acknowledgments
Editorial Practices
Introduction
Prologue. A Model Education—Seville, ca. 1552
Chapter One. From the Water to the Writing Book—Amsterdam, ca.
Chapter Two. "By the Shortest Path": Developing Mathematical Rules—Dieppe, 1675
Chapter Three. Hands-On Theory along the Thames—London, 1683
Chapter Four. Paper Sailors, Classroom Lessons—The Netherlands, ca. 1710
Chapter Five. Lieutenant Riou Is Put to the Test—The Southern Indian Ocean, 1789
Epilogue. Sailing by the Book, ca. 1800
Glossary
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Resources

Additional Resources