The Cartographic Impulse - Global Objects in the Early Modern World

ARC451H1 F
Instructor: Jason Nguyen
Meeting Section: L0101
Fall 2022

The impulse to represent the world has motivated countless artists, architects, scientists, explorers, and politicians since at least the early modern age (c. 1500-1850). This period witnessed the globalization of trade networks, the expansion of worldwide empires, and the development of sailing technologies that facilitated maritime travel. This course looks at a range of cartographic objects from this consequential period in global history, including maps, charts, globes, paintings, decoration, buildings, and even landscapes. The aim is to assess how the artistic forms of these objects embodied both the scientific knowledge and the territorial desires of a period and place. That these efforts unfolded alongside the expansion of global empires illustrates the degree to which mapmaking often coincided with the violence of conquest. To this, the course attends to the histories and theories of critical cartography and counter-mapping as political, artistic, and architectural practices. Readings, discussions, and writing exercises will lead to a final project of each student’s choosing.