Early American History Seminar: Martin Brückner, University of Delaware

Early American History and Culture Seminar
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

“The Spectacle of Maps in America, 1750 - 1840”
Martin Brückner, University of Delaware

“The Spectacle of Maps in Early America” explores the rise of display maps during the period encompassing the consumer revolution in North America between 1750 and 1800. Taking its cue from much overlooked 18th-century definitions that declared maps to be “pictures,” this chapter examines maps at the intersection of theories of visual representation, decorative design, and actual display practices. By tracking popular wall maps–ranging from Henry Popple’s giant Map of the British Empire (1733) to smaller sized maps sold by Thomas Jefferys (1763) and Robert Sayer (1786)–into American material settings, it shows how decorative (rather than scientific) maps carto-coded both the visual perception of early Americans and their conceptions of social space.