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Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Maps in the Modern World
Maps are a ubiquitous feature of contemporary culture: so indispensable, and so disposable, that thousands are churned out every day. Yet cartography was not always the wallpaper of daily life. In fact, not so long ago, maps were both rare and strange. When and why did the modern culture of cartography come into being? How have maps empowered states and speculators, scholars and rebels? And how is the recent diffusion of Google Earth imagery and GPS changing our relationship to the planet, both on the ground and in our minds?
This seminar course will introduce students to a range of research in the rapidly changing field of cartographic studies. Each of our four core texts is an interdisciplinary hybrid, drawing from geography, history, and visual studies. Together, they offer a wealth of images and approaches, illuminating cartographic artifacts through such lenses as humanist inquiry, social activism, psychological analysis, and the creative arts. Topics include the use of maps in way-finding, war-making, globalism, tourism, pedagogy, and virtual worlds.
You will participate in a variety of hands-on map and atlas exercises, be asked to write short (one-page) weekly reading responses, and two book reviews, help lead discussion, and locate and bring in maps on particular themes. In addition, class time will occasionally be devoted to probing related resources on campus, including the Branner Earth Sciences Library and Special Collections. The last week of the quarter will be devoted to your student projects, where you will have the chance to explore, individually or in teams, any dimension of mapping that is of particular interest to you, and to create an exercise for the rest of the class using maps on that topic.