Geosophy, imagination, and terrae incognitae: exploring the intellectual history of John Kirtland Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1946, the American geographer John Kirtland Wright (1891–1969) proposed ‘the study of the world as people conceive of and imagine it’, a field of inquiry he termed geosophy. In espousing geosophy, Wright articulated a novel, humanistic perspective that formed a foundation upon which the subsequent development of perception and behavioural geography would be based. With reference to the contexts of its inception, dissemination, and reception, this paper traces the evolution and articulation of geosophy. Through detailed assessment of unpublished manuscript evidence, this study reflects on the disparate influences that conspired to mould geosophy’s conception and development. Charting Wright’s imaginary worlds—his childhood fantasy land Cravay and the mountainous terrae incognitae of New England which he explored as a youth—this paper highlights the interaction of imagination and perception that shaped and represented his geographical approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546–562
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • John Kirtland Wright
  • historiography
  • geosophy
  • imagination
  • perception

Cite this