Denis Cosgrove

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Denis Edmund Cosgrove
Denis Cosgrove.png.jpg
Born 3 May 1948
Liverpool, England, UK
Died 21 March 2008
Los Angeles, USA
Nationality British
Fields Geography
Alma mater Oxford University
University of Toronto

Denis E. Cosgrove (3 May 1948 Liverpool – 21 March 2008 Los Angeles) was an Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. His father was a bank clerk and, ironically enough, as a child his school made him stop taking geography because they told his mother it was a girls subject and that he must do Greek and Latin instead to stay in the "A" stream. He went to school in Oxford and the University of Toronto. He was a cultural geographer, whose work focused upon the concepts of landscape and representations. He was a leading proponent of the 'new cultural geography' which encouraged a focus upon the complex interconnections between the many different aspects of landscapes and the world.

Denis was the second eldest of six children and was raised in a very Catholic family. He was married twice and had two daughters and one son.


Cosgrove's research interests evolved from a focus on the meanings of landscape in human and cultural geography, especially in Western Europe since the 15th century, to a broader concern with the role of spatial images and representations in the making and communicating of knowledge. His work included how visual images have been used in history to shape geographical imaginations and in connection between geography as a formal discipline, imaginative expressions of geographical knowledge and experience in the visual arts (including cartography).

This broad concern was pursued through a series of focussed studies: of landscape transformation, design and images in 16th-century Venice and north Italy, of landscape writings by authors such as John Ruskin, of landscape, space and performance in 20th century Rome, of cosmography in early modern Europe (1450–1650), and of the history of Western imaginings of the globe and whole earth. He has also written extensively on theory in cultural geography and edited for six years the journal Ecumene (now titled Cultural Geographies) which publishes cross-disciplinary work on environment, culture and meaning.

Within his cultural research, Cosgrove differentiated between dominant cultures and alternative cultures. The dominant culture has the most influence in shaping a landscape. Most of what you see, he claimed, is likely to be a product of the dominant culture in a region. However, one is also likely to see evidence of alternative, or subcultures in the landscape. Within the category of alternative culture, Cosgrove differentiated between residual cultures (historic cultures that have disappeared or are in the process of fading away), emergent cultures (those that are just now appearing), and excluded cultures (those that are actively or passively excluded by the dominant culture).

In 2008, Cosgrove was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Tallinn University.[1] Cosgrove died of cancer at his home in Los Angeles on 21 March 2008.

External links[edit]

Selected publications[edit]


  • [edited with Stephen Daniels] The Iconography of Landscape: Essays on the Symbolic Representation, Design and Use of Past Environments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


  • [with Geoffrey Petts] Water Engineering and Landscape: Water Control and Landscape Transformation in the Modern Period 192 pp. London: Belhaven.


  • The Palladian landscape: geographical change and its cultural representations in sixteenth century Italy 287 pp. Leicester University Press/Pennsylvanian State U.P., 1993 [in June 2006 being translated into Italian by Cierre, Verona]


  • "Cultural Landscapes" in T.Unwin ed. Europe: a modern geography, Longman, London, 1997, 65–81.


  • Social formation and Symbolic Landscape (2nd edition with additional introductory chapter), Wisconsin Univ. Press, 1998
  • "Urban rhetoric and embodied identities: city, nation and empire at the Vittorio Emanuele II monument in Rome 1870–1945" (with D. Atkinson) Annals, Association of American Geographers, 88, 1, 1998, 28–49.


  • "Airport/Landscape" in J. Corner (ed.) Recovering Landscape Princeton Architectural Press, Princeton NJ, 1999, 221–232 (with paintings by Adrian Hemming)
  • "Empire in modern Rome: shaping and remembering an imperial city" (with D.Atkinson and A.Notaro), in F.Driver & D.Gilbert (eds.) Imperial Cities: landscape, display, identity. Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1999, 40–63.
  • "La géographie culturelle et la signification du millénaire" Géographie et Cultures, 31, 1999, 49–64.
  • "Liminal geometry and elemental landscape: construction and representation" in J. Corner (ed.) Recovering Landscape Princeton Architectural Press, Princeton NJ, 1999, 103–120.
  • Mappings (editor) 311 pp. Reaktion Books, London, 1999


  • "Global illumination and enlightenment in the geographies of Vincenzo Coronelli and Athanasius Kircher" in C.Withers & D.Livingstone eds. Enlightenment Geographies, Chicago University Press, Chicago, 2000, 33–66.
  • "Millennial geographics" (with L.Martins) Annals, Association of American Geographers 90. 1, 2000


  • Apollo's Eye: a cartographic genealogy of the Earth in the Western Imagination, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 2001.


  • Ptolemy and Vitruvius: Spatial representation in the 16th-century texts and commentaries in Architecture and Sciences, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, NY, 2003.


  • "Carto-City." In Else/Where: Mapping – New Cartographies of Networks and Territories, ed. Janet Abrams and Peter Hall, 148–157. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Design Institute.


  • "Images of Renaissance Cosmography, 1450–1650." In Cartography in the European Renaissance, ed. David Woodward, 55–98. Vol. 3 of The History of Cartography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • "Mapping the World." In Maps: Finding Our Place in the World, ed. James R. Akerman and Robert W. Karrow, Jr., 65–115. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


  1. ^ "Audoktorid: Dennis Cosgrove".