Skip to main content

Paper Worlds: Urbano Monte and the Global Renaissance

Sponsored by

This event is over.

Event Details:

Since its arrival in the Rumsey Map Center, the Milanese cartographer Urbano Monte’s 1587 world map has become one of the uniquely compelling artifacts in our collection.  One of three surviving manuscript copies, it shows us how an armchair traveler viewed the world from Milan at the end of the Renaissance.  Monte (1544-1613) created his map after witnessing the Tenshō embassy (1582-90) visit his city before returning to Japan.  Monte’s map was a product of global curiosity as well as a synthesis of Renaissance cartography, travel narratives, histories, and news of the world.

This workshop places Urbano Monte’s world map in its different contexts – local, regional, and global – through a discussion of cartography, geography, and in curiosity in an age of Iberian and Asian empires.  We will juxtapose his project of mapmaking in relation to the voyage of the Florentine merchant Francesco Carletti (1573-1636), whose account of his accidental circumnavigation of the world in 1594-1602 is being edited for new Italian and English editions.

This event is sponsored by the History Department, the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, and the David Rumsey Map Center.

Please register in advance to attend. 


Workshop Program

Friday, May 17

1:00-1:15 pm    Welcome (Paula Findlen)

1:15-1:45 pm    Urbano Monte’s 1587 Map

  • Chair, Paula Findlen (Stanford University)
  • Chet Van Duzer (The Lazarus Project at the University of Rochester) “Urbano Monte: Around the World Map”

1:45-3:00 pm    Session 1:  The View from Italy:  Monte’s Mapmaking in Milan

  • Chair, Sarah Prodan (Stanford University)
  • Maddy McMahon (University of Texas, Austin) “Urbano Monte in the Landscape of Milan”
  • Liz Horodowich (New Mexico State University) “Asia in America: The Venetian Origins of Monte Urbano’s World Map”

3:30-5:30 pm Session 2:  Creatures on a Flat Earth:  Monte’s Global Imaginary

  • Chair, Jaime Marroquin (Western Oregon University)
  • Mackenzie Cooley (Hamilton College) “Fixed in Place: Temporality and the Animal Imaginary in the Urbano Monte Map”
  • Benjamin Breen (UC Santa Cruz) “Myth, Magic, and Cross-Cultural Knowledge in Monte’s Annotations” 
  • Ricardo Padrón (University of Virginia) “Urbano Monte and the Flat Earth”


Saturday, May 18       

10:00-12:00 pm Session 3: Reorienting Knowledge:  Monte’s Asian Dreams

  • Chair, Emanuele Lugli (Stanford University)
  • Joshua Batts (Universitàt Autonoma de Barcelona) “Sizing up Japan: Dimension and Detail in Urbano Monte’s Giapone Isola”     
  • Sijia Li (Stanford University) “A Tale of Two Cities: Encountering East Asian Metropolises on Urbano Monte’s Map”
  • Harleen Kaur Bagga (Stanford University) “Pomo granato aperto: The Waters of Urbano Monte’s World Map”


1:00-3:00 pm    Session 4: One Map Among Many:  Sixteenth Century Worldmaking

  • Chair, Lucà Mola (University of Warwick)
  • Farah Bazzi (Stanford University) “Mastering the Sea’s Eyes: Piri Reis’ Teachings on the Art of Conquest”
  • Lia Markey (Newberry Library) “The Materiality and the Circularity of Monte’s Rumsey Map”
  • Arman Kassam (Stanford University ’22) “Mapamundi as Self-Portrait: Deference and Dissidence in the Worlds of Guaman Poma and Urbano Monte”

3:30-4:30 pm    Round Table & Discussion

  • Chair, Brian Brege (Syracuse University)
  • Kären Wigen (Stanford)
  •  Alexander Nagel (NYU)
  • Giorgio Riello (European University Institute)

5:00-6:00 pm Musical Encounters in the Tenshō Embassy - SOLD OUT

  • Location: Munger Rotunda, Green Library
  • A performance by the Stanford Camerata & University of Southern California Early Music Ensemble
  • Organizer:  Zach Dakota Haines (Stanford, Music)

Please join the Stanford Camerata and the University of Southern California Early Music Ensemble for a concert that follows the Tenshō Embassy through music! In 1583, four young Japanese legates and their party from the Jesuit mission in Nagasaki embarked on a seven-year journey across the globe, to Rome and back. Their leader, Alessandro Valignano, sought to increase awareness of the mission and their financial needs, so he organized the embassy that represented Christian Japanese daimyōs to relay their obeisance the pope. Throughout their travels, the boys received music lessons, performed at the cathedrals and princely courts, and were present to numerous splendid performances as part of the grand pomp and circumstance surrounding their visit. We will perform vocal and instrumental music that the Japanese boys may have heard or played throughout the trip, featuring composers such as Carreira, Palestrina, Gabrieli, and many more. We will explore the role that music played in the seven-year-long embassy and the significance of a European musical presence in Japan.