New Book | The Social Life of Maps in America, 1750–1860

Posted in books by Editor on November 22, 2017

From UNC Press:

Martin Brückner, The Social Life of Maps in America, 1750–1860 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), 384 pages, ISBN: 978 14696 32605, $50.

In the age of MapQuest and GPS, we take cartographic literacy for granted. We should not; the ability to find meaning in maps is the fruit of a long process of exposure and instruction. A ‘carto-coded’ America—a nation in which maps are pervasive and meaningful—had to be created. The Social Life of Maps tracks American cartography’s spectacular rise to its unprecedented cultural influence. Between 1750 and 1860, maps did more than communicate geographic information and political pretensions. They became affordable and intelligible to ordinary American men and women looking for their place in the world. School maps quickly entered classrooms, where they shaped reading and other cognitive exercises; giant maps drew attention in public spaces; miniature maps helped Americans chart personal experiences. In short, maps were uniquely social objects whose visual and material expressions affected commercial practices and graphic arts, theatrical performances and the communication of emotions. This lavishly illustrated study follows popular maps from their points of creation to shops and galleries, schoolrooms and coat pockets, parlors, and bookbindings. Between the decades leading up to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, early Americans bonded with maps; Martin Bruckner’s comprehensive history of quotidian cartographic encounters is the first to show us how.

Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press

Martin Brückner is professor of English and material culture studies at the University of Delaware.


List of Illustrations

Preface: Introducing the Social Life of American Maps

Part One: American Mapworks
1  The Artisanal Map, 1750–1815: Workshops and Shopkeepers from Lewis Evans to Samuel Lewis
2  The Manufactured Map, 1790–1830: Centralization and Integration from Mathew Carey to John Melish
3  The Industrial Map, 1820–1860: Innovation and Diversification from Henry S. Tanner to S. Augustus Mitchell

Part Two: The Spectacle of Maps
4  Public Giants: Re-Staging Power and the Theatricality of Maps
5  Private Properties: Ornamental Maps and the Decorum of Interiority
6  Self-Made Spectacles: The Look of Maps and Cartographic Visualcy

Part Three: The Mobilization of Maps
7  Looking Small and Made To Go: The Atlas and the Rise of the Cartographic Vade Mecum
8  Cartographic Transfers: Education and the Art of Mappery

Epilogue: Cartoral Arts and Material Metaphors

Appendix 1: Price Table—Maps and Their Sales Prices, 1755–1860
Appendix 2: Inventory of “John Melish Geographer and Map Publisher”

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