A History of Maps and Mapping

Maps are simultaneously ubiquitous in everyday life yet also strangely absent from much scholarly work outside the niche field of the history of cartography. How to catalogue, study, and discuss maps as historical sources for research is a subject that draws insight from critical bibliography, the history of the book, historical geography, and other subjects, making it an interdisciplinary and dynamic field. Since the 1980s, scholars have placed maps under critical review, questioning precisely what a map is and probing the social and cultural roles maps, and their makers and consumers, play. However, this re-envisioning of map scholarship has not reached general or popular literature. The course is suitable for historians, art historians, geographers, students of literature, librarians, archivists, and map dealers.

Outcomes for students

This course will challenge students to:

destabilize and broaden the traditional definition of ‘map’.
recognize maps as socially-mediated objects that are indicative of the values and biases of their makers and the cultures that created them.
be able to analyse and catalogue maps for a variety of research purposes.
discuss changes in map materiality, technology and style without recourse to a progressive narrative of scientific improvement.

Recommended Introductory Reading

NB. There is no textbook or comprehensive work on theory and approaches in the history of cartography (the present course could be the basis of one). All these works contain important further references.

1 The History of Cartography, Volume 1, Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean , edited by J. B. Harley and David Woodward (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1987). 'Chapters to read in particular: Preface; chapter 1 (J. B. Harley, 'The map and the development of the history of cartography') and chapter 18 (David Woodward, 'Medieval Mappaemundi ', ignoring the section on classification).

2 The History of Cartography, Volume 3, Cartography in the European Renaissance , edited by David Woodward (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2007, 2 tomes). note chapters by Barber, P. (54), Delano-Smith, C. (21), Tyacke, S.J. (58), Woodward, D., (1 & 22) and Worms, L. (57).

3 Imago Mundi.  The International Journal for the History of Cartography. the key journal for the subject

4 Catherine Delano-Smith and Roger J. P. Kain, English Maps. A History (London, British Library, 1999).

5 J. B. Harley, The New Nature of Maps. Essays in the History of Cartography, edited by Paul Laxton, Introduction by J. H. Andrews (Baltimore and London, The Johns Hopkins Press, 2001).

6 David Woodward, Catherine Delano-Smith and Cordell Yee, Plantejaments Objectius d'una Història Universal de la Cartografia / Approaches and Challenges in a Worldwide History of Cartography (Barcelona, Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya, 2001). text in English.

7 WWW-Virtual Library: History: Map History / History of Cartography: THE Gateway to the Subject (http://www.maphistory.info/).