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Rare Book School at the University of Virginia

H-65. Introduction to the History and Preservation of Maps

(Instructor to be announced)

This course is intended for those who seek a general overview of the technical and cultural aspects of the history of maps so these documents can be effectively understood and described as both artifacts and cultural texts. This course will consist of multimedia lectures, with workshop exercises using original materials. The first two days address questions related to the authenticity and physical quality of maps, globes, and atlases and how these were drawn, printed, and colored from pre-classical times to the pre-digital era. This section will build an introductory vocabulary and understanding of the map as artifact. The remaining days provide an overview of why maps, plans, views, and charts were made and how these objects were used historically: taxation; administration; warfare; wayfinding; and organizing geographical and cultural knowledge in both literal and metaphorical ways. Major format changes and technological transitions in mapmaking and their cultural impact will be discussed. The course will introduce some theoretical issues in the current scholarship on map history, but its focus will be on developing an appreciation for maps as material objects.

Although this course is intended to introduce map history, participants will derive most from the course if they have already been exposed to the problems in understanding maps and who might eventually take advanced courses in this subject at Rare Book School. Such participants might include rare book librarians, conservators, map librarians, map collectors, and map dealers.

In their personal statement, applicants should describe the nature of their developing interest in the history of the map, their expectations of the course, and the purposes to which they propose to put the knowledge gained from the course.

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Course History