Event—Public Programming

Mapping the Impossible: Humboldt in the New World


Humboldt Monument, Humboldt Park

Humboldt Monument, Humboldt Park

Please join us for a special presentation at the Newberry Library to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Alexander von Humboldt’s birth. In conjunction with the Chicago Sister Cities International program, this meeting will feature a keynote presentation by Prof. Laura Dassow Walls, as well as a sneak peek of the new documentary on von Humboldt, La mirada del explorador.

Prof. Walls first encountered Alexander von Humboldt when a teacher told her no one could understand Darwin without reading Humboldt. She was mesmerized by the opening sentences of Views of Nature, and ever since she’s never been far from Humboldt’s spell. Prof. Walls’s books include Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America; she also co-edited the first modern translation of Humboldt’s Views of Nature. Her presentation will track Humboldt to the Americas and trace how the paradoxes of place left him devising new ways for maps to beckon a new world into being.

Laura Dassow Walls is the William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. Her most recent book is Henry David Thoreau: A Life, published by the University of Chicago Press.