Geography 222 The Power of Maps

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Geog 222 Exam 1
Update: 10/21/14

Due: Wednesday November 5 by 9:57 am

Exam 1: Writey up a total of 10 pages + illustrations when requested (illustrations don't count in page total!).


1. The Power of Maps and GIS: 2 pages + illustrative maps

To start off the course, I provided examples of six reasons maps might be considered powerful and interesting things:

Please select two of these reasons, and find a very good illustrative example for each - different from the examples discussed in lecture (Introduction to Course). You can use any sources you want, make sure to properly cite the source you find. You need good examples and a good explanation of why the examples illustrate whichever two (of the six) you chose.


2. The History of Maps and Mapping: 2 pages + illustrative maps

Review the delightfully 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:

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.


3. Locational Privacy: 3 pages + illustrative map or two

Maps show us data, and data comes from a diversity of sources. In class we discussed GPS and cell phone tower triangulation, which allows a smart phone to generate a relatively accurate location for itself. When your phone is location enabled, you benefit - directions, nearby shopping or eating, etc. But you are not the only one who benefits by knowing where you are. Google, for example, uses data from your location enabled phone to generate its rather useful traffic data.


4. The Power of Maps - real or fictional? 3 pages

Read the review article by Muehrcke and Muehrcke on Maps in Literature and the two fictional short stories by Munby and Borges (all three linked as PDF files on the schedule for this week).

The Muehrcke's "Maps in Literature" articles uses many old-school 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.

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:

  1. The discussion in the first class lecture (in some cases expanded in later lectures): The power of maps and GIS derives from:

  2. Other lecture outlines from class to date.

  3. The Muehrcke, Munby, and Borges readings (see the lecture notes on these readings).

  4. The Monmonier and Krygier/Wood readings:

Jot down a few of the more interesting (to you) ideas from class lectures or the readings and use these to concoct your story.

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? Or a story based on the loss of locational privacy? About getting lost due to maps, or finding yourself? About following a map into a mysterious place with no temperature?! 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 tattoos that cause trouble? Maps made of scrambled eggs that change the world? Anything goes, so go crazy. For this semester, just to provide me with a break, lets skip the typical "I found a treasure map" story!

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!



E-mail: jbkrygier@owu.edu

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