Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 1998


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 8 No. 2, 1998. Copyright ©1998 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Used by permission.


A Continent Comprehended is the final volume in a trilogy on North American exploration that began with the publication in 1997 of A New World Disclosed and continued with A Continent Defined. Disclosure, definition, and comprehension announce a conceptual approach appropriate to furthering the retrospective understanding of geographical exploration at the time of the Columbian Quincentenary, the event the volumes were originally planned to commemorate. Historiographers are unlikely to find much evidence of these or other essentially cognitive concepts in the exploration histories that celebrated the Quadcentenary one hundred years before. Yet here they are, more or less overt, but not for the first time. Isolating first appearances in any branch of scholarship is notoriously difficult, but these and related conceptual approaches to exploration were certainly heralded twenty-two years before the trilogy in the editor's first and seminal book, Passage through the Garden: Lewis and Clark and the Image of the American Northwest.