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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Dr Alessandro Scafi: The Location of Nowhere: Paradise on Maps

21st November 2007, 15:15, A56, Elvet Riverside I, Durham University

Dr Alessandro Scafi, Lecturer in Medieval and Renaissance Cultural History, the Warburg Institute will be giving a paper entitled 'The Location of Nowhere: Paradise on Maps' on 21 November 2007 as part of the Modern Languages Seminar Series.

In the modern world, paradise is generally thought of as not being of this world. Nowadays, true paradises are seen as paradises lost (to use Proust’s words). For medieval Christians, paradise was a place on earth, its geographical location indicated on maps. The challenge for the compilers of the maps was to make visible a place that was geographically inaccessible and yet real, remote in time and yet still relevant as the scene of an essential episode of salvation history. Mapping the Garden of Eden presented the ultimate cartographical paradox: how to map a place that was on earth but not of earth. The paradoxical notion of the precise location of the earthly paradise was an important component of the medieval world view. During the Renaissance, transformations, in both theological doctrine and cartographical practice, brought about the decline of the belief in a contemporary paradise and the emergence of new historical and regional approaches to the mapping of the Garden of Eden. The cartography of a paradise lost and past began in the Reformation and has blossomed until today.

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