This course examines histories of mapping: what maps show, and what places the practices of cartography have tended to erase, distort, or conceal. Focusing on North America, it examines how Native Americans, African-Americans, and Euro-colonial peoples strongly contested the meanings and representations of “place.” Course topics include Indigenous mapping traditions and concepts of homelands spaces; European navigational strategies and colonialism; urban planning; and scientific as well as military depictions of particular lands and waters, especially west of the Mississippi River. The course teaches strategies for employing maps as primary sources, and ways of understanding the historical and ideological circumstances of their production and circulation. It will offer opportunities to critically engage cartographic materials in Williams College’s archival and museum collections, and to develop independent research projects.
Format: seminar; Remote class. Class will center on weekly Zoom discussions in a seminar format, plus virtual one-on-one discussions with the instructor about writing projects.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
class discussion, response papers, short analytic essays, final project
one History or American Studies course
sophomore, junior, and senior History and American Studies majors
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course offers critical perspectives on mapping and the close connections between representations of space/place and the exercise as well as contestation of power. Particular attention is devoted to Native American/Indigenous mapping and "counter-mapping" projects and methodologies, as well as scholarship from the African diaspora that stresses the active role of mapping in creating and also resisting racialized social regimes.
HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada
HIST Group P Electives - Premodern