How do we recreate a place that has been lost? Around 1505, European mariners created a vast, floating colony in the northwest Atlantic. Centered on fishwork, the mass-production of processed fish, they called this place Terra Nova. Within a century Terra Nova would disappear, replaced by the more familiar configurations of space and imperial occupation which lay the groundwork for modern Canada. This talk will consider how we can recover and visualize Terra Nova and the experience of fishwork in the sixteenth century. It will first examine surviving cartographic and written evidence to show how fishwork made space, and how the geography of Terra Nova was tied to maritime labour. The talk will then consider how we can use a variety of visual evidence—maps, prints, photographs, sketches, petroglyphs—to recover and imagine what it looked like to spend a summer in Terra Nova in the sixteenth century. In combining these approaches, we may find new ways for environmental historians to study sites of premodern extraction which are otherwise difficult to recover.
This keynote event is supported by the Humanities in the World Initiative Faculty Invites program and cosponsored by the History Department.