British travel collection to be showcased in University Library

Christopher Woods

Students, staff, faculty and members of the Kent State community will be able to view a one-day showcase called “The Printed World: European Travel Writing in an Age of Global Encounters (1500-1850)” on Friday on the 10th floor of the University Library.

Assistant history professor Matthew Crawford said the showcase will be available for viewing from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and refreshments and snacks will be offered for attendees.

Students from one of Crawford’s independent study courses, “European Exploration, Expansion and Empire in the Early Modern World,” are helping to create the showcase. Crawford said the class focuses on students learning about early modern history through early modern books.

“The theme that we decided to focus on for the course was European exploration, expansion and imperialism,” Crawford said. “We’re thinking of this pivotal time period where Europe goes from a relatively unimportant region of the globe to the 19th century where you have the British Empire, and it’s huge.”

Crawford holds a doctorate in history and science studies. He collaborated with undergraduate history majors Paul Boyle, Traci Hoffman, John Potwora and Amy Vartenuk from his class and Cara Gilgenbach, head of special collections and archives, for the showcase.

Crawford said he was fascinated with the collection because it is a time period that he’s always worked with and said he is excited to present the knowledge to the public.

“I thought that it would be great to learn more about the collection but also give these students an opportunity to do something hands-on and apply history rather than write a paper on history,” he said.

Gilgenbach said the event is the culmination of a semester’s worth of work in the course for Crawford and his four students.

“For them, they’ve spent a whole semester working with these books and doing a lot of background reading,” Gilgenbach said. “And the showcase is really the event where the students get to talk about the books that they’ve worked with and go over what they learned.”

Each of the four students has his or her own section of the showcase he or she has chosen to study.

“I’m working with sources where Europeans are traveling to China and Russia or traveling to Africa and working with pieces that tie those things together,” Vartenuk said.

Other highlighted parts of the showcase include British exploration and colonization of the Americas, accounts of British explorer and navigator Captain James Cook and accounts of Scottish explorer Mungo Park’s exploration of the Niger River in Africa.

Contact Christopher Woods at [email protected].