About the Class

Fall 2016 Graduate Studio | NMDS 5223 | CRN 6225
Wednesdays 4 to 6:45pm @ 6 East 16th St #602 (studio) and #1104 (seminar, for when we need it)

Instructor: Shannon Mattern | 79 5th Ave, 16th Floor | matterns[at]newschool[dot]edu
Course Assistant: Fernando Canteli De Castro | cantf367[at]newschool[dot]edu

Maps reveal, delineate, verify, orient, navigate, anticipate, historicize, conceal, persuade, and, on occasion, even lie. From the earliest maps in cave paintings and on clay tablets, to the predictive climate visualizations and crime maps and mobile cartographic apps of today and tomorrow, maps have offered far more than an objective representation of a stable reality. In this hybrid theory-practice studio we’ll examine the past, present, and future – across myriad geographic and cultural contexts – of our techniques and technologies for mapping space and time. In the process, we’ll address various critical frameworks for analyzing the rhetorics, poetics, politics, and epistemologies of spatial and temporal maps. Throughout the semester we’ll also experiment with a variety of critical mapping tools and methods, from techniques of critical cartography to sensory mapping to time-lining, using both analog and digital approaches. Course requirements include: individual map critiques; lab exercises; and individual research-based, critical-creative “atlases” composed of at least five maps in a variety of formats.


This course draws on insights and inspiration from four years’ worth of students in my “Urban Media Archaeology” studio – and is indebted to Jeremy Crampton’s Critical History of Cartography reader; Marisa Olson’s “Media Studies: Experimental Geography Reading List” (Rhizome, March 20, 2009); RISD’s Experimental Geography Research Cluster; Matthew Wilson’s “Critical GIS” graduate seminar; and Wilson’s “Critical and Social Cartography” course. I must also thank the fellows at the Digital Cultures Research Lab at Leuphana University, in Lüneburg, Germany, where I workshopped this syllabus in July 2015; as well as Karen Gregory and Lauren Klein for their helpful recommendations.