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June 18 - June 24

Kenyon Summer Seminar

The Age of Discovery: A Never-Ending Quest

Instructor: Laurence Bergreen, author


The “Travels” of Marco Polo, the four voyages of Christopher Columbus, and Magellan's ambitious, tragic first-ever circumnavigation: they’re the great journeys of the Age of Discovery, well-known but still full of surprises. Laurence Bergreen, who has authored biographies on each of these three explorers, will take you on a journey connecting these three explorers and their influence on one another, exploring how the familiar narratives came to be from source materials from the period. Why did they all set out on their journeys within a relatively short span of time? How did their travels and accounts influence an increasingly global trade, and the fates of the monarchies that supported the quests? And why were they dismissed or considered failures in their tumultuous lifetimes?  And as exploration never stops, the course concludes with Bergreen’s fascinating research of NASA’s use of these earlier explorers’ techniques to model its own recent robotic missions to Mars and other others destinations.  

Download the syllabus for this course.