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.

One Reply to “Map Reflection”

  1. I loved the observation you made about Hamilton espousing such strongly liberal arts values in such a physically isolated space.  I know it’s basically impossible to assign a quantifiable value of how much a student can learn (academically, experientially, culturally) in a certain place, but I still do think there is merit to the argument that one may be overall more culturally literate from studying in larger spaces that are inherently more diverse ethnically, culturally, linguistically, etc.  Of course, studying anywhere is an exercise in cultural literacy because every space is different, but I think cities especially encourage cultural literacy because of the diverse populations they attract.  In a way this is mapping both academic and cultural education, which is really interesting.

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