The mantle of the Earth: Myth, metaphor and the geographical imagination
Professor Veronica Della Dora
Department of Geography
The mantle is a powerful metaphor for geographical knowledge. It best expresses geography’s dual nature as a scientific as much as an aesthetic practice. And yet, its usages and representations have changed throughout western history. These changes reflect significant shifts in ways of apprehending and describing the world: from the closed space of medieval mappae mundi (literally, ‘world cloths’) to the mantles and curtains opening on the expanding world of the Age of Discovery; from Romanticism’s vapoury veils shrouding sublime landscapes and nature’s mysteries to 20th century geographers’ conceptualization of landscape as a surface at once revealing and concealing the complex workings of society. As our world is being enveloped in a digital mantle and our existences are being increasingly interlaced in its texture, today the metaphor is acquiring a new and yet unexplored significance.
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