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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Understanding the World Through Maps

Instructor(s): John Lopez, Art History

A study of how maps are agents of knowledge and power. In this seminar, students will examine a diverse set of maps, cartographic practices, and readings to understand how and why maps have been mobilized to meet social and political agendas. In deconstructing the practices of mapmaking, students will learn to decode a map’s graphic commentary to gain comprehension of its ideological motivations. In particular, students will examine how maps produce knowledge and power, their use in imperial encounters and slavery, how non-Western peoples resisted colonialism by making maps, cartographic contributions by woman, and if there can be a “cartographic ethic.”


Course Offered: