Seminar Outline | Newberry

Seminar Outline

Participants in the five-week seminar will follow a program of lectures, seminars, workshops, and readings of recent scholarship from multiple disciplines, and will have the opportunity to work directly with Newberry materials. Most weekday afternoons will be devoted to seminar sessions led by the co-directors. Our discussions of readings for these sessions will include viewings of relevant original materials from the Newberry collections. On most mornings, participants will be free to pursue their own research projects. Each participant will have the opportunity to present the progress of their work to their colleagues on the final two days of the seminar. A preliminary syllabus for the seminar may be found at here.

Seminar Sessions

On most afternoons, seminar participants will attend three-hour sessions led by the co-directors. The first half of these sessions will usually include brief presentations by the co-directors of the topic of the day and extended discussions guided by assigned readings. After a break we will continue our discussions prompted by the presentation of maps, books, or manuscripts from the library’s collections. In Monday workshops during the first four weeks of the seminar, participants will work in pre-selected groups of Newberry materials related to the theme of the coming week.

The arrangement of seminar topics is roughly chronological, but of course major themes identified during the first week of the seminar will be revisited throughout. In Session 1, Akerman and Dym will provide an overview of the themes, organization, and logistics of the seminar. Then, in the first of four workshops, working in groups, participants will study and discuss a selection of Newberry materials representing the various ways in which maps and text cooperate in a variety of formats and genres, including collections of voyages, road atlases, itineraries, fiction, and guidebooks. In Session 2, Akerman will present a map curator’s view of the range of cartography produced by and for travelers, surveying different map types, their uses, and variations across time and space. In Session 3, Dym will outline the history and permutation of travel literature from the time of Marco Polo to the “conquest” of the poles. After a scheduled research day on Thursday, Dym will conclude the week with a discussion of the meaning and scope of travel mapping as a genre, contemplating the historically dynamic relationship between travelers as consumers and travelers as makers of maps.

Sessions during the second week (Mapping and Traveling in an Expanding World) will examine the relationship between mapping, travel, and travel literature until the eighteenth century. In Session 5 Dym will discuss the role that maps played in accounts of and guides for religious pilgrims in medieval and early modern times and the wider significance of mapping during pilgrimage for future travel cartography. In Session 6 Akerman will lead a discussion of explorers’ maps from later medieval times to the age of Humboldt. After the research day, in Session 7 Akerman will lead a discussion of the differential development of mapping for maritime and land-based travel before the rise of industrial modes of travel and map production.

Our discussions in weeks 3-5 will examine the intersection between the production and use of travel mapping and texts and the technological, social, and political transformations of the modern world—that is, from the Age of Sail to the Digital Age. A persistent theme throughout will be the tension between the forces of the market and industrial production on the one hand, and travel as a personal experience on the other. Week 3 (Mapping and Traveling with a Purpose) will feature three sessions focusing on the growing diversification in the form and purpose of travel maps and texts reflective of the emergence of distinctive genres of map and text production associated with particular types of travel. Our interests will range from the mapping in early modern travel accounts of Westerners “abroad”; maps and texts associated with the rise of leisure travel in Europe and the Grand Tour; the commingling of observation and travel in scientific exploration; to guidebooks and maps for nineteenth-century migrants. Our discussions in the fourth week (Map, Text, and Travel in the Age of Tourism) concern the rapid expansion of travel publications and mapping that coincided with the emergence of middle-class and mass leisure and travel, focusing on the emergence of the guidebook from the genre of the travel narrative; the energetic deployment of maps by railroad- and automobile-related; and parallel popular forms of map production and distribution, in atlases, geographies, and magazines. The final week will begin with two introspective sessions prompting discussion of the history and culture of travel mapping from the broad perspectives of technological change and gender. Participants will present their individual research projects for discussion on Wednesday and Thursday. The final session on Friday will be devoted to summing up and evaluation.

Individual Projects

Summer programs at the Newberry offer visiting teachers and scholars superb opportunities to renew and develop scholarly interests and teaching skills at a premier research library. Each seminar participant’s pursuit of their own project utilizing the Newberry’s extensive humanities collections is an essential part of this experience. These projects may be designed to develop new teaching materials or courses, promote the participant’s growth as a scholar and researcher, or both. Suitable projects include new course syllabi or classroom assignments; teaching resources such as online exhibits, web pages, or reading materials; new lectures or sets of lectures; research contributing to new scholarly publications; and annotated bibliographies. An art historian teaching a modern art course might develop a digital course packet incorporating examples of illustrations from tourist maps and brochures, analyzing their use of visual tropes and allegories in the representation of nature. A social historian might pursue research that will generate a journal article exploring how European migrants to South America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries gathered information for and navigated the journey. A specialist in Spanish literature might develop an upper-level seminar on the indigenous concepts of space and territory in the mapping, guidebooks, and travel literature of New Spain.

Most mornings and one full day per week will be set aside for reading and research. Participants will meet during the first week with the co-directors to develop their research topics. Weekly, informal brown bag lunch sessions will offer additional opportunities for collegial discussion of ongoing projects. These research projects will be regarded as works in progress. No specific outcome is required at the end of the seminar; however, each participant will present a progress report during the final three days of the seminar. Participants who wish to do so will be able to publish written reports of their work in the Smith Center’s newsletter and/or web page.

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