The Spacious Word explores the history of Iberian expansion into the Americas as seen through maps and cartographic literature, and considers the relationship between early Spanish ideas of the world and the origins of European colonialism. Spanish mapmakers and writers, as Padrón shows, clung to a much older idea of space that was based on the itineraries of travel narratives and medieval navigational techniques.
Padrón contends too that maps and geographic writings heavily influenced the Spanish imperial imagination. During the early modern period, the idea of "America" was still something being invented in the minds of Europeans. Maps of the New World, letters from explorers of indigenous civilizations, and poems dramatizing the conquest of distant lands, then, helped Spain to redefine itself both geographically and imaginatively as an Atlantic and even global empire. In turn, such literature had a profound influence on Spanish ideas of nationhood, most significantly its own.
Elegantly conceived and meticulously researched, The Spacious Word will be of enormous interest to historians of Spain, early modern literature, and cartography.
"As [the author] moves from studying cartographers and their art through conquistadors, historians, and poets, he portrays a rich Renaissance discourse about empire and uses literary, historical, and geographical methods to present a compelling picture of a multilayered society able to draw on literature, history, and geography to assimilate and conquer new lands."
Grace E. Coolidge