September 6: Cartographic Futures, Presents + Pasts

Map of Nippur, 14th/13th c. BCE

Field Trip, 4-5pm: NYPL Map Division, 42nd St + 5th Ave, meet outside room 117 – Here’s Nancy’s list of the materials she shared with us


The Old

The New and Timeless: these two pieces foreshadow many of the themes and critical questions we’ll be discussing throughout the semester

  • Shannon Mattern, “Mapping’s Intelligent Agents,” Places Journal (forthcoming mid-September 2017) [This piece will be published online in a week or two! You can find corresponding images here].
  • Lois Parshley, “Here Be Dragons: Finding Blank Spaces in a Well-Mapped World,” Virginia Quarterly Review 93:1 (Winter 2017).
  • What new cartographic developments – humanitarian or ecological applications, business opportunities, creative experiments, political or ethical threats, areas of critical study, etc. – are most compelling to you? You might draw from inspiration from the two essays above, or you might consider how mapping aids in predictive policing and military combat; how new geolocative technologies make it possible for online retailers to deliver to remote, henceforth “un-addressed” parts of the world; how real-time mapping opens up new potential in the worlds of gaming or performance; how artists find creative fodder in geo-media glitches; or how smartphones could be compromising our “spatial thinking”; or any of the other ways mapping is transforming transportation, trade, culture, climate, and realms beyond. Your task is to choose a cartographic issue or application of personal interest; do a little digging online for relevant news, recent scholarship, and illuminating “think pieces”; then come to class prepared to briefly report on one “future of mapping” story that interests you and seems ripe for investigation. You’ll each have one minute to present!




J.B. Harley and David Woodward, Eds., Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean, Vol. 1 of The History of Cartography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987) [especially Catherine Delano Smith, “Cartography in the Prehistoric Period in the Old World”] and J. B. Harley and David Woodward, Eds., Cartography in the Traditional Islamic and South Asian Societies, Vol. 2, Book 1 of The History of Cartography; Cartography in the Traditional East and Southeast Asian Societies, Vol. 2, Book 2 of The History of Cartography; and Cartography in the Traditional African, American, Arctic, Australian, and Pacific Societies, Vol. 2, Book 3 of The History of Cartography

Ed Parsons & Steve Chilton, “The New Mapping Revolution: Google Maps and OpenStreetMap,” Discussion at the British Library (September 7, 2010) [on egocentrism, disposability, availability of aerial photography]

The richly illustrated website companion to Susan Schulten’s Mapping the Nation | David Rumsey Map Collection: 70,000+ historical maps of all continents (except Antarctica) and the world

David Turnbull’s Maps are Territories website



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