Geography 222 The Power of Maps
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Geog 222 Exam 1
Exam 1: Writey up a total of 12 pages.
- This is a thinky rather than memorizey and regurgitatey
exam. It should be, by far, the most interesting exam you've taken in this course.
- Page Format: Use space-and-a-half spacing, 12
point type, and 1 inch margins.
- Review the detailed yet comprehendible Digital Submissions
Guide. Screw up the formatting and I will deduct points, make you fix
the problems, and charge you a nuisance fee.
- Include the question you are answering prior to each answer
(copy and paste from this page).
- Cite any sources you use in an appropriate manner. You may use
any materials for the exam (books, lecture notes, lecture outlines, the web,
talking to people) but cite them.
- Plagiarism is copying other people's work without citation. Yes,
copying stuff from previous semester exams is plagiarism. You
can discuss the questions with each other but don't copy each other's work. I can
easily compare digital texts and have copies from previous semesters.
- Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.
- More insightful, creative, and interesting answers will get higher grades.
You are being graded in relation to your peers in the class.
- Compile your answers into a single Goog file, saved in your shared Geog 222
folder, and email me when it is
complete, no later than Friday November 2 at 9am. Make sure I respond
that I was able to access your masterpiece.
1. The History of Maps and Mapping: 3 pages + illustrative maps
Review the lavishly illustrated lectures on the A Cultural
History of Maps. Select one topical era (1. Prehistoric Maps, 2. Ancient Middle East, 3. Cartography in the 1st half of the Millennium: 400AD to 1450,
4. The Age of Discovery: Renaissance European Maps: 1450 AD onward, 5. Indigenous Cultures and Mapping, 6. Nineteenth and Twentieth Century) you found interesting
and do a bit of research to learn more about the era. Review the information at The History of Cartography Virtual Library. Include these issues in what you write:
- Illustrate your examples and discuss their historical context
- how your examples fit into the culture they arose from
- how your examples relate to our modern mapping with its concern with geographic accuracy
- how your examples relate to our modern mapping traditions
You can do one example in more depth or a series of examples. Mostly pick some interesting
old maps and consider how they relate to our modern mapping traditions.
2. Maps as Arguments: Persuasive Maps: 4 pages total
- "Maps provide powerful images. For people who want to change the way we think
about the world, changing our map of the world is often a necessary first step." (Dorling
and Fairbairn, Mapping p. 154)
Discussions in class and in the various readings about "propaganda maps" and maps used for
advertising and developers in Monmonier's book - lets call them "persuasive maps" - leads
to the conclusion that typical and "objective" mapping processes such as generalization
(selection - what is shown and not shown), symbolization (emphasis), map projections,
etc., are being used to the advantage of propagandists, advertisers, and developers. All
these people and groups seek to change our image of the world with the aid of maps. While
we may find some of these persuasive maps problematic, it is difficult to fault these maps
on a technical basis: they are usually factually correct and generally accurate. It just
may be that all maps are "propaganda" maps - or, at least, all maps are arguments.
Below are a bunch of persuasive maps. They all argue for something. Please refer to them
in an essay based on the following questions:
- 2 pages: Describe and critique maps from at least
three of the categories below. What are they trying to persuade you of? Do they
do the job well?
- 2 pages: From your perspective (given what you have
learned about maps and mapping so far this semester) are there any issues with these maps,
compared to other more "neutral" maps (USGS Topo Maps, Google maps, and any other maps we
have looked at)? Do these maps, as Monmonier would put it, 'lie'? Or is there no
problem? Support your position. Are all maps persuasive maps? Are all maps arguing
for a particular way to see the world? What about a generic Google map? Does it argue for
a specific way to see the world? Are Google maps (and other similar on-line maps) arguing
for a world made up of transportation corridors, linking places to spend money (consume)?
- Abolitionist (anti-slavery) maps, pre Civil War (1840s, 50s).
- Urban problems (1970s-80s)
- Israel, Iraq War
- Israel is isolated and surrounded!
- Dead soldiers in Iraq
- Climate change: geographic source of emissions, impact of climate warming (info here)
3. Maps in Literature: 2 typed pages
The Muehrcke's "Maps in Literature" articles uses many literary examples to highlight interesting characteristics of maps.
Below find five of the general ideas they explore, with references to specific examples in their
text. Select two of the five below and write one page on each (2 pages total). Use examples
from the article, or your own examples. Explain why these are important characteristics of maps.
- The paradox of mapping
- p. 317: maps can't reproduce complex reality, but that is their allure
- p. 319: maps can't be both revealing and complete
- p. 323: marks on sheet brings to mind a multidimensional world, emotions...
- p. 329: fascination: map as more and less than itself; truthful but omits much
- p. 337: map projections, scale reduction, static, selective, abstract: but allow
us to see reality much better, understand, spur imagination...
- Imaginative map use
- p. 319: need to have an imagination to read a map
- p. 320: imaginative map use leads to a map being more than itself
- Unimaginative map use
- p. 320: objective, detached, emotionless decision making: military
- Mistaking the map for the landscape
- p. 323: related to unimaginative map use: but quite imaginative
- p. 324: reading maps instead of traveling?
- p. 325: blank spaces spur imagination
- p. 334-5: Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn: the color of the states
- The authority of maps
- p. 326: maps more authoritative than words? people not critical of maps?
- p. 326: Catch-22 (Heller): change the map, change reality
4. Maps & Fiction: 3 typed pages
The review article by Muehrcke and Muehrcke on Maps in Literature and the two fictional
short stories by Munby and Borges suggest a curious map paradox:
If a map's power comes from how well it represents "reality," then why are maps of
non-existent places so common in fiction? How is it that a map works well even when
the reality it shows is made up?
It is possible that such "map stories" are a really important way to make sense out of maps and
their power. In other words, the "power of maps" is not only about how well maps show "reality"
but about something else.
For example: in the Munby ghost story we can see how the power of maps in part derives from our
trust that they show "reality" accurately, and won't lead us astray. Thus we
tend to not be very critical of maps.
In the Borges story, which is somewhat more challenging to make sense out of,
we can see how the power of maps in part
relates to their ability to simplify, generalize, and vastly reduce the complexity of reality. Too
much information is a problem! It will kill you!
With all these deep thoughts in mind, write a 3 page short story - wholly crap, fiction - that gets some important
characteristic of the power of maps.
Potential "big" ideas for your story may come from:
Jot down a few of the more interesting (to you) ideas from class lectures or the readings and use
these to concoct your story.
- The discussion in the first class lecture
(in some cases expanded in later lectures): The power of maps and GIS derives from:
- maps as an ancient phenomena familiar to many different cultures
- major technological advances and impact
- maps kill!
- discoveries with maps: we learn new things from maps, rather than just
show what we know
- maps shape how we see the world
- Other lecture outlines from class to date.
- The Muehrcke, Munby, and Borges readings (see the
lecture notes on these readings).
- The Monmonier and Krygier/Wood readings:
- Monmonier ch. 5 Maps that Advertise
- Monmonier ch. 6 Development Maps
- Monmonier ch. 7 Propaganda Maps
- Monmonier ch. 8 Defence Maps
- Monmonier ch. 9 Large Scale Maps
- Krygier & Wood ch. 1, 2, and 4 + blog
Concocting a fictional story may seem a bit peculiar but what the heck.
The key here, I think, will be picking the right idea. Can you make up a story
that gets at any of the issues raised by the psychogeography maps you made? A story based
on historical maps (question 1)? Or a story based
on extreme versions of "persuasive maps" (question 2) and their impact? Or a story
that is influenced by the issues raised in the Muehrcke and Muehrcke article (and the
literature they cite - question 3)? If you are a rock climber, how might maps play into
that activity? If you would like to be a pilot, how might maps play into that activity?
If you are into science fiction, how might maps be the focus of a scifi tale? What about
fictionalized stories based on your own (or other's) experiences? A child's fantasies
about maps? Birds reading maps? Map tatoos that cause trouble? Maps made of scrambled
eggs that change the world? Anything goes, so go crazy.
The style of your story can be realistic, or fantasy, science fiction, horror, or mystery, or whatever.
Just be creative and try to have more fun than stress.
Feel free to bounce ideas off of me. Good luck!
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