Current historiography suggests that European nations regarded the New World as an inassimilable 'other' that posed fundamental challenges to the accepted ideas of Renaissance culture. The German Discovery of the World presents a new interpretation that emphasizes the ways in which the new lands and peoples in Africa, Asia, and the Americas were imagined as comprehensible and familiar. In chapters dedicated to travel narratives, cosmography, commerce, and medical botany, Johnson examines how existing ideas and methods were deployed to make German commentators experts in the overseas world, and how this incorporation established the discoveries as new and important intellectual, commercial, and scientific developments. Written in an engaging and accessible style, this book brings to light the dynamic world of the German Renaissance, in which humanists, cartographers, reformers, politicians, botanists, and merchants appropriated the Portuguese and Spanish expeditions to the East and West Indies for their own purposes and, in so doing, reshaped their world.
Christine R. Johnson is Associate Professor of History at Washington University in St. Louis.