Mapping Past + Future + Elsewhere (But Not So Much Present)

After the first couple times mapping my weekly routine, I knew the pins I dropped were never going to move very far.  I think the only thing that changed between those first two weeks was that I drove five miles to get a haircut in New Hartford.  I remembered that Nhora had given us some creative license for this project, so I  decided to take full advantage of that opportunity.  Mapping the same points over and over again would have just made me depressed about how small my life is right now.  Instead, I decided to think just a bit more temporally.

I started out with Cuba because it’s topically relevant in this class and I only studied there a year ago.  I felt like it would be fun and productive to think back to my daily routine in Havana and map it out so people could get a glimpse of what it’s like to study/live in Cuba.  From there I went on to map other places I’ve been.  Then I started thinking about the future.  My dad and I are taking a road trip this summer to get to my new job, so I took advantage of my excitement by laying out a possible route.

I got a bit tired of mapping on the past/present/future spectrum, so I decided to look for other ways to utilize Google Maps.  I think the first “non-experiential” map I made was when we were reading Utopia.  I’d describe myself as a Democratic Socialist, so this book got me thinking about countries that are doing better than the United States at enacting progressive legislation.  I used the World Progress Index to find the countries I was looking for.

Looking back at this project, I’m fascinated by the fact that I was always trying to map some other place or some other time.  I think it shows that even if I’m enjoying the present, it’s always fun to look behind or ahead, or simply somewhere else.  I was still really impressed with people in the class who remained faithful to recording every week at Hamilton.  There’s certainly value in marking and analyzing the nuances of our daily lives; small things can make a big difference.  I guess it’s just a bit harder for me to be patient in waiting for those subtle nuances to develop.

Dropping Pins

Every week I had mostly the same routine. I went to classes, work, ate meals, went to the gym, rinse and repeat. Looking at just Hamilton campus, I thought I spent a decent amount of time all over campus, not just staying light side or dark side. However, on a macro scale, I really was just spending a decent amount of time in a bubble.

As other people have mentioned, everyone has their routines that they follow and stick to throughout the semester. I know some felt this was more of a negative thing than positive, but I think that there’s something to be said for having a routine when you’re at school or in classes. On the other hand, it was also more fun, at least for me, to look back on my week and remember the places I went that were off-campus or new — anything different was interesting.

 

Everyone seemed to look at this project a little differently. I liked that Talia had so many descriptions (something I didn’t add, usually just letting the title of the pin explain itself), because I actually was able to understand what the significance was of those places.

I think it’s safe to say, though, that this was a revealing experience for all of us — a reminder that we get into habits and routines pretty easily. Personally, this project has made me more excited than ever to get off campus and drop some pins in the real world this summer.

College

After doing this weekly mapping project I have discovered that I do not get off campus that much. It really shows how isolated and remote Hamilton College is. I also noticed that when I am not on campus I travel a lot.

I was also surprised how I pretty much have the same routine everyday on campus and frequent the same buildings.

Ultimately this assignment really made me understand how I do not really travel much outside of campus, when studying at Hamilton. It also makes me look forward very much to graduating and returning back to civilization. I miss living in a large city, where there is so much you can do in one day. This assignment was overall great, but I am disappointed in the results. I wish I did more interesting things on campus or travelled around more.

Map Reflection

It was only logical that as we engaged with the mapping of peoples and places during the Renaissance, we should also map ourselves in some form. In practice, though, positioning myself in the world on a weekly basis showcased the reality not only that I have spent most of my time this semester in a tiny radius, but also that each of my maps shows little, if any changes. The assignment of mapping every week is interesting because the maps we’ve seen in this class have been single snapshots of a location or voyage. Our mapping process this semester has been a unique repeated-sampling of sorts– it allowed us to think beyond the content of each layer and consider the dynamics of our position in the world. The process revealed an irony of sorts with the small, liberal arts college–the goal is to survey a broad range of disciplines and increase worldly knowledge; yet, for Hamilton students, at least, that often takes place in isolation from the very world we are “discovering.”

My maps usually used different colors and symbols to represent the places I visited during the week. Doing so encouraged me to consider what those places meant to me, and the symbols I used to mark them changed if I felt that my perspective of that place had changed. I noticed that other students in our class emphasized the scheme of the map, as a whole, rather than characterizing the individual elements. I liked that Maura’s map was a unit of two–the first was a map of the world, and the second zoomed in on a core region , Upstate NY. The first map was almost a sketch in terms of the level of detail it included, whereas the second was lined with roads and cities, serving even as a way to express that these are places Maura frequents.

Overall, the mapping process challenged me to consider what a map does and does not reveal. For me, graduating and moving to Boston in a month seems like a big change. On a map, it’ll just look like a little southeast shift. Regardless, I’m hoping I can draw my circles a little wider, drop some pins at further distances.

The Repetitiveness of College Life

Many have mentioned how similar their weekly schedules are each week, and mine is no exception. Week to week, my schedule hardly changes, with the exception of my audiovisuals on campus job, which may require me to traverse across campus (out of my lightside bubble). There is however, a certain comfort in a repetitive routine in which the factors are predictable. With the stress and uncertainty looming in many seniors’ postgraduate plans, this sense of security in following a daily routine is, I suspect, very much welcomed despite many seniors’ insistence on being ready to leave this place. I on the other hand, am ready for a new adventure. As many students have brought up, there are not many dining options on campus, and unless one has a car, most dining places off campus are inconvenient to get to. Reflecting on the mapping assignments also made me reflect on my experiences as a first year. Looking back, as a freshman, my weekly routine was much more unpredictable, and I explored the campus frequently with my just-as-excited friends. But alas, like everything else, the sense of excitement slowly dwindles and like most people, settled into my daily routine. The same clubs, the same dining tables, the same friends, and even the same professors. While this sounds more than boring, as I have mentioned, there is a certain comfort into sticking to what is already “known.” But just like the conquistadors and explorers, from Vasco da Gama to Christopher Columbus, I want to immerse myself with unknown and yet to be discovered experiences. Heading to a new school in the fall (this time in a city), my experiences will change dramatically, and perhaps my weekly routes will differ. However, I suspect, once again, routine will get the best of me, and I unfortunately will settle in my comfort zone. I hope to explore more about myself through immersing myself in multiple scenarios as I begin my journey as an independent adult.

Mapping Me

It has been interesting to map myself throughout the semester. It made me realize how my schedule each week is very similar. The patterns of places I went each week were very consistent. I tried to make each spot unique by adding a specific color for different areas. Additionally, I gave each point a unique icon and a caption. I realized that this made it very specific to me because other people might not understand exactly what I meant. For example, the gross green color I used for my icon on Commons was meant to represent my less than enthusiastic feelings about eating there. Or for my Economics class icon I often made it the skull and crossbones, meant to represent my feelings towards the class. For Dunkin Donuts, I made the icon blue (my favorite color) and a heart–obviously representing my love for Dunkin iced coffee. Although this all made sense to me and I understood my own map perfectly, I realize that to an outside viewer the colors and icons might seem more arbitrary.

Beyond the reflective purposes this assignment served for me, it was also super interesting to look at other people’s maps and see how we each mapped ourselves differently. We all took different approaches to the assignment, revealing the individualistic nature of mapping. I thought looking at where people went for Spring Break was particularly interesting because we all went such different places. Mine was very relaxing and spent in my hometown. However, I noticed a lot of other people did travelling to other cities. I liked the way that Talia mapped her spring break on campus. She actually put a path on her map of going to the dining halls and back to her dorm. I also thought it was interesting to read the descriptions of the locations. I didn’t write descriptions of my locations. I instead relied on the chosen icon and the title of the location to reveal some information.

I mapped my week usually on Thursday nights or Friday mornings and found that I enjoyed thinking back over the past week and the places I went. The process was almost like a journal because in a lot of cases I would remember something that happened in each other places that I went to, such as a funny moment, or a stressful assignment. The map itself was like a reflection of the week. Like Grace mentioned in her post, it felt like I did so much every week, going a bunch of places, and just being generally busy. However, when I actually looked at my map I realized that I didn’t go far at all. I was confined mostly to Clinton, NY. When zoomed out on the larger map, all my many places just blended together to look like one singular location.

Weekly Maps Reflection

I found the weekly map assignment to be challenging (in a strange sense) and interesting. In looking at my classmates’ maps, I developed a deeper appreciation for the individual nature of maps.

The challenge for me in my map assignment was just how little I move around. If you asked me on a day-to-day basis if I felt like I went a lot of places, I would say yes, of course! I give tours to prospective students, go to class, go eat, walk around, maybe sit outside, go to club meetings, hang out with friends, maybe work at the museum, go to the gym – lots of things! But all of these are within maybe a half a mile of each other. Looking at my week on a world map really puts things into perspective. Especially when I was home for spring break, this rang true. My spring break this year was a bit busier than usual. I had just gone through a brief break-up, and was in a very self-motivating, “Miss Independent” mood. I made sure to always stay busy, and so I visited 4 different cities, saw a lot of friends, and never sat still. Even with all of the traveling I did, it still didn’t seem as if I did all that much on my map. I still was centered around where I live – outside of Philly, and (less often), in Georgetown in DC. When I take into account all of the places I’ve been (or most at least, which I did in the second layer of my second map), it looks a lot more impressive. I’ve seen most of the country, and quite a few places in Western Europe. Even still, when I lay out all of these places visually on a map, it’s clear to me that I stay within my comfort zone. The place that has pushed me the most was Morocco, in terms of a different culture and way of life, but even that was not too different – and I was only there for a day! I grew up and live in a western perspective, and I travel with and into a western perspective as well. When I map, I am mapping in a certain way because I am steeped in this specific way of viewing things.

I mapped last week about where I plan to go this summer. I tried to be reasonable, and based this off of what I did last summer, as well as some plans I have loosely made with friends. Other than my family vacation to North Carolina, I won’t be foraying out of the northeast. Part of this is practical: my car was totaled last summer and so I don’t have great mobility. I live conveniently close to several major train stations, though, so most of the northeast is very accessible and fairly cheap. I have the benefit of having a family who has two houses near/in two large cities as well, and so I can explore both DC and Philly in my free time when I’m not working. These are more benefits than most people will ever have, and so in this way, mapping has made me both more aware of my travel limitations, and more thankful for the few limitations that I have.

In addition, it was interesting to see the maps of my classmates. Some of them were more creative, some more technical. Kelt’s maps in particular stood out for me, mostly because I didn’t understand them. One of his maps, for example, was an partial alphabetical list of countries. Most of them were fairly obscure in the sense that they are not often frequented by American travelers. I could only think that maybe it was an alphabetized list of countries he hasn’t visited (or maybe ones he thinks he should?). His maps were interesting simply because I didn’t get them. I think this says something interesting about reading maps. When I see a map, my first instinct is to look at the title, the locations, to locate myself in reference to the map. I want to know what is going on in the map, where I am. Some of Kelt’s maps weren’t titled, leaving me to try to use context clues to figure out what he was mapping. This is an interesting insight into map readership, as well as into what people are interested in. This plays with the ideas of the “unknown” that we talked about in class. The “unknown” is fascinating purely because it is not known. By virtue of its identity, it is inherently interesting to people. Kelt’s maps held some of that idea for me, though I’m not sure if that was his intention or not.

The map assignment for me was very interesting and eye-opening, both on a personal and on an academic level.

Friday Mapping Assignments: A Review

Throughout this semester, I have had a love/hate relationship with the Friday Mapping Assignments. I am, as my mother affectionately says, “technologically challenged,” so learning the ropes of My Maps was not easy for me. Until March break, I would email Kyle every single week to let him know when my map was completed and ready to upload to the website, as I thought that he did it manually. Turns out, he doesn’t and i’d been bombarding his inbox for no reason (oops!). Despite some minor hiccups, I began enjoying rehashing my week every Thursday evening or Friday, and I feel that I could better incorporate my personality into my later maps once I got the hang of the program.

As I browsed through the rest of the classes maps, I noticed huge stylistic differences across the board. While some students operated in layers, others added on to the same map every week and used symbols or descriptions to designate time. Some students walked through their layers day by day, while others gave a comprehensive sweep of the week. My maps tended to focus mostly on text and description of where I went and why, whereas other people’s used symbols or photos. In one of Sarah’s maps, for example, she showed that she spent a majority of her week at Hamilton and then went to Boston for a part of it – something I do every other week. While our maps were almost identical in terms of location,  they differed greatly visually. Sarah used concise headlines and varying colorful symbols to designate what she was doing at each location.  Mine, on the other hand, used the same symbol and color for each location but incorporated textual descriptions of every location. My descriptions, however, ultimately conveyed the same type of information as Sarah’s images.

The differences in our approaches speak to the many different roles, methods, and intentions behind mapping. I found that creating and comparing a semester’s worth of maps illustrates a major theme for this course; differences in interpretation. All of the texts that we have read have been about interpreting and communicating the unknown, and we, as readers, have been tasked with interpreting the maps in front of us.

Ariel’s Ambiguous Gender

In our class discussions on The Tempest, most members of our class gendered Ariel as female. Common criticisms of The Tempest, however, refer to Ariel as male while acknowledging the ambiguity of his gender as a product of ambiguity in his form. I find that my views on mapping in this text vary depending on how I choose to interoperate Ariel’s gender.

I read The Tempest last semester in tandem with literary criticisms that refer to Ariel as “he,” and thus did find his gender ambiguous, as the conclusions of those works colored my perceptions of Ariel. When I read Ariel as a man, I viewed The Tempest as a map of general power dynamics and power struggles; Prospero uses Ariel to facilitate power and makes Ariel the key to successfully navigating his way to the top of power struggles. Under this interpretation, colonialism and slavery arise as two prominent themes and issues in the play.

In reading Ariel as a woman this semester, however, I began to view The Tempest as much more of a political map. While political implications, colonialism, and enslavement are undeniably present no matter how you read Ariel’s gender,  the fact that Prospero uses a woman to facilitate his power highlights Miranda’s role in the play. She, too, is used as a political pawn, and thus political themes become far more prevalent.

Margaret Leighton as Ariel in a 1952 stage version of The Tempest.

 

Ben Whishaw as Ariel in the 2010 movie version of The Tempest.

Cracking the Epilogue

We didn’t get to the end of the play yesterday, so I wanted to focus specifically on the epilogue.  To be honest, I find most of Shakespeare’s (???) comedies and “dramedies” to have a pretty uniform and cookie-cutter narrative structure; I think the tragedies are far more complex.  Nevertheless,  all of the Shakespeare epilogues I’ve read seem to be steeped in a certain amount of mystery, just waiting to be picked apart.  I tried my best to analyze this passage within a post-colonial framework.

The first few lines of the epilogue connote Prospero’s colonial dominance– his “charms” (1), his “strength” (2)– but curiously this is all the set in the past tense.  Prospero’s charms “are all o’erthrown…  what strength I have’s mine own” (1-2).  All of this implies that Prospero’s powers were only a temporary gift granted to him to achieve his goals of exacting vengeance on his enemies.  But who granted him this power?  This is where it gets interesting.

Throughout the play, we as readers are under the impression that Prospero gained his powers through assiduous studying.  But in the end, it seems as if… we… are the ones giving him power.  Prospero pleads, “Let your indulgence set me free” (20), explaining that “I must be here confined to you” (4).  It’s almost as if, just as Prospero was enacting colonialism by taking over Caliban’s island, we are enacting colonialism by taking over Prospero’s text.  It’s an incredibly clever meta-joke on the part of Shakespeare (???), but I think there’s also some hidden social commentary here.  Perhaps Shakespeare is referencing the infinite nature of colonialism.  Spaces have been colonized over and over again since the beginning of humanity.  Can a culture truly claim original ownership of a space if they were also once the colonizers?  Could this be an anti-colonialist text?  We’ll never know for sure, but I certainly don’t think it’s out of the question.