University of Delaware, English Department
"Maps in the Classroom: Picture Pedagogy, Object Lessons, and the Cult of Cartifacts"
This presentation examines the rise of maps and map-like objects, so called cartifacts, in the pedagogic settings of the United States between 1815 and 1860. During this period school rooms emerged as a distinct cultural setting defined by pedagogy handbooks, popular fiction, and the visual arts. Inside these settings maps emerged as highly visible pedagogic devices. Recovering the work of Antebellum publishers specializing in school maps, such as John Melish, Henry Tanner, and John Colton, the paper explores the genre of school maps in relation to schoolrooms. It addresses maps as a both a pedagogic and theatrical medium that - contrary to popular map definitions - was increasingly beholden to pedagogic changes propagated by Johann Pestalozzi and Emma Willard, whose idea of object-learning revolved around sensory experience and performative activities. Evidence for this material turn in early school cartography emerges from student projects that experiment with design (watercolor, needlework), media (paper, wood, and textiles), scale (miniature maps and monumental "map garden"), and presentation (exhibits). Through close-reading maps and material evidence this talk ultimately explores the way in which Antebellum school maps facilitated not only lessons in visual perception and spatial cognition, but effectively "carto-coded" domestic socialization and social spaces.
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