Fall 2019

Cartographic Cultures: Making Maps, Building Worlds

Listed in: Architectural Studies, as ARCH-232  |  Art and the History of Art, as ARHA-232


Dwight A. Carey (Section 01)


(Offered as ARHA 232 and ARCH 232) This course traces the history of modern cartography from the integration of indigenous map-making techniques into colonial Latin American land surveys in the sixteenth century to the use of GIS software by militaries and corporations to create detailed images of foreign and domestic territories in the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will question the political and economic impetus that drove governments, militaries, municipalities, and private entities to create renderings of the land on which we live. We will also investigate the technological history of map-making as we consider the extent to which innovations in modern science have influenced the production of maps. This course will challenge the presumption that maps are factual portrayals of physical space. It will also question how divergent forms of culturally based knowledge as well as economic constraints and corporate rivalries have historically influenced map-making and subsequently shaped our understanding of territories near and far. We will think through these issues while investigating a number of major topics in the history of modern cartography: map-making and indigenous expertise in the Americas prior to and during European intervention; colonial cartography in the Americas, Asia, and Africa; the explosion of the map-making industry in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England and France; the mapping of oceans and other remote landscapes during this time; the twentieth-century genre of pictorial maps in the United States; cartography and modern warfare; and artists’ responses to these histories. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will build their writing and research skills while gaining knowledge of the methods that scholars employ when reading a wide variety of maps. Moreover, in approaching contemporary debates in the field of cartography, this course will introduce students to landscape studies.

Fall semester. Assistant Professor Carey.


2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020