*Abbreviations under the "Available" column: A = Available // NA = Not Available // R = Previously Registered // WL = Currently on the Wait List

The Many Faces of Maps

“Give me the map there!” demands King Lear, as he prepares, unwisely, to divide his kingdom among his daughters. The map presumably shows the borders of the three proposed kingdoms. It is easy for us to imagine such a map, as maps are often used for this purpose today. A map is a visual representation of space and can be used for such ends as planning road systems and towns, allotting property taxes, or showing water resources. It can also be a base for information, geographically presented, such as populations, ethnic diversity, household income, or religious affiliation. Maps appear to be eminently practical and factual documents, but maps can be misleading, deliberately (as in propaganda maps) or inadvertently, if the mapmaker is unskilled or lacks crucial information. Maps can also be used to give a view of the world or the cosmos as a philosophical, rather than a physical, construct. Australian aborigines make complex maps of their mythological past or “dream-time,” as expressed in their ancestral landscape, while medieval European mapmakers placed the world in the context of Judeo-Christian history, from the Creation to the Last Judgment. We might think of early maps as merely amateur endeavors, now replaced by more accurate and measured representations, but these old maps have much to tell us which may be omitted from the modern grid-based map. This course will look at the history of maps, from earliest beginnings to the modern era. Each class meeting will begin with a key map which will set the theme for the day’s discussion. Come prepared to enlarge your idea of maps and their role in the world.

Instructor Bio:

Evelyn Edson came to the Charlottesville area when Piedmont Virginia Community College opened in 1972, and taught history and humanities there for 34 years. She has also taught in the adult degree program at the University of Virginia. Her research field is the history of medieval cartography (maps). She has published three books on the subject and is eager to talk with other map-lovers.

Recommended Reading:

Akerman, James and Robert Karrow, Maps: Finding Our Place in the World, 2007. Thrower, Norman J. Maps and Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society, 1996.

Course Number Instructor Dates Day Time Location Available
B04 Evelyn Edson Apr 17, 24, May 1, 8, 15, 22 Mo 1:00-2:30 p.m. Unity of Charlottesville WL

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