ICC Programming

From Templates to Novelty

5709.1 - For the Essentially Subjective Elements of Cartography, 1953-1995

Wednesday, July 5
4:10 PM - 4:30 PM
Location: Harding

The tendency within more colloquial histories of cartography in the United States is to consider the work of the 20th century as a progressive development of cartographic efficacy, from techniques in hand-drawn mapmaking through functionalistic thematic mapping principles to computational and analytical cartography and geographic information systems. A key figure of these more colloquial narratives around the history of cartography in the latter half of the last century is Arthur Robinson. We can witness the 'trouble' of cartographic efficacy in Robinson's writing, particularly around what he considers 'essentially subjective' aspects of cartographic design and map use. This ‘trouble’ remains in different intensities throughout cartographic pedagogy. Our presentation will discuss analysis of 65 years since his published book The Look of Maps, and argue that, alongside this tendency toward ever progressive cartographic efficacy has been a somewhat nascent grappling with what might be meant by 'cartographic aesthetics'. As such, we attempt to conceptualize a wider notion of aesthetics in map design -- one that incorporates the 'unintelligible' aspects of nonetheless effective cartographic objects -- and discuss implications of such a conceptualization for the practice of critical mapping.

Amber J. Bosse

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
University of Kentucky

Amber J. Bosse is a Ph.D. student in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Geography. As a pioneer of participatory action mapping (PAM), she has collaborated with more than a dozen grassroot organizations throughout the past four years. Throughout these project, she has repeatedly observed how maps that ‘break all the rules’ of functional cartography and work to successfully gain the attention of local, state, and federal leaders. As such, her dissertation examines the history of cartographic design in an attempt to trace its disciplining and analyze the mechanisms through which legitimacy is granted through particular “aesthetics”.


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Matthew W. Wilson

Associate Professor
University of Kentucky

Matthew W. Wilson, PhD, is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Kentucky and Visiting Scholar at the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University. He co-founded and co-directs the New Mappings Collaboratory which studies and facilitates new engagements with geographic representation.He previously taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His current research examines mid-20th century, digital mapping practices. He earned his PhD and MA from the University of Washington and his BS from Northwest Missouri State University. His latest book is New Lines: Critical GIS and the Trouble of the Map, forthcoming with University of Minnesota Press.


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Jenny Marie Johnson

Map and Geography Librarian and Associate Professor of Library Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Jenny Marie Johnson is Map and Geography Librarian and Associate Professor of Library Administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has previously served as map and geography librarian at the University of Washington and Clark University. Besides cartography textbooks, Jenny is interested in the early 20th century Good Roads Movement.


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5709.1 - For the Essentially Subjective Elements of Cartography, 1953-1995

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