The Brennen Maps Exhibit: Mapping the Arguments and Attributes

In cartography, there is much more than just creating maps. Many generalize that maps are made for navigation and acquired destinations. The maps from the Ray Brennen Collection at Muhlenberg College contradict these generalizations. Within these created maps, observations can be made and conclusions can be drawn from the details of the maps about the changes throughout time and the messages it tells the viewer.

In The New Nature of Maps, the author J.B. Harley talks of how textbooks and projections tell the system how the Earth should be represented. Then, he disagrees with that idea. He does this by writing that Cartographers concede “that they employ rhetorical devices in the form of embellishment or ornament, but they maintain that beneath this cosmetic skin is always the bedrock of truthful science… As images of the world, maps are maps are never neutral or value-free or ever completely scientific” (Harley 37). Harley explains the idea of maps as always being biased and never truly correct. The devices of rhetoric that lie beneath the “cosmetic skin” are the biased ideals that make maps never truly correct.

Maps have multiple parts that can be declared as the “cosmetic skin” where the cartographer’s messages lie beneath. One part in particular the reader can easily find the messages are within the unillustrated areas, which Harley calls the blank spaces in maps. He argues that these blank spaces have an iconological symbolism to them. He then insists that “The notion of “silences” on maps is central to any argument about the influence of their hidden political messages. It is asserted here that maps — just as much examples of literature or the spoken word — exert a social influence through their omissions as much as by the features they depict and emphasize” (Harley 67). Harley talks of how the blanks or “silences” within the map are the places where cartographers include the expressions, inferences, and ideals on certain political, social, economic, or intellectual topics. The 19th Century map of Martinique is a good example from the Brennen Collection. The bottom left shows a beautifully painted depiction of the French Colonists settling the island. The viewer can understand the cartographer’s support of the colonization because of the inclusion of two gods (Poseidon and Apollo) guiding and protecting the French ships to the new world to colonize and spread their influence. The cartographer had the belief that it was the French’s divine purpose to spread their “privilege” and monarchist ideology to new lands.

Blank spaces in maps do generate one’s ideas, yet at the same time, what most viewers do not see is that they silence oppositional ideas. That is, the depictions within the blank spaces directly and intentionally shut down ideas the cartographer doesn’t agree with. Harley writes “In colonial mapping, as in eighteenth-century North America, silences on maps may also be regarded as discrimination against native peoples” (Harley 67). Harley says here that these silences actually silence the cartographer’s opposition. In the Martinique map, the blank space depicts the natives on their knees in front of their settlers, showing that they failed in resisting the colonization. This representation shows the cartographer’s belief of the inferiority of the natives. It also takes away the Natives view in the map. Natives at this time supported the European settlers because of the exchange in raw materials and livestock. Most of the time until the wars in North America in the 1700s and westward expansion, the natives and European settlers tolerated each other. Another example would be the map on page 80 in Harley. It is an outline map of Southern Africa that in the center of it displays an angel-like person lecturing white British explorers to settle and take advantage of the economic wealth from the resources of the land of Zambesia, in which the British call their “El Dorado” of Africa. While resembling the beauty of the filled blank, I realized that the indigenous population of Zambesia was excluded from this work. This is because maps like these try to “desocialize” the place they are in so they can show more of the groups that are taking over and promote the glorious nationalism of the country’s imperialist ideologies. This also made me realize that the cartographer filled this blank with such beauty to purposely distract me from realizing there was no indigenous population. This distraction makes a clear point of how the cartographer tries to silence their opposition, which in this case is Zambesia’s native population, whose message could have been that the British were invading their land and were not welcome in their eyes. Throughout time, the bias and deregulation may have lessened, there the reader can understand why these happened through the changes in maps from back in time to today.

Two generalizations can be introduced from viewing historical maps: what the area was like back then and the changes that were made between then and now. The collection’s maps of Allentown and all the Colonial America maps from the 17th and 18th century are examples of this. They depict the borders, major points of interest, and streets that change drastically over time. Harley explains that maps from the “territorial treatises to town planning, and from railroads to the rectangular grid, they underline the making of modern America” (Harley 48). The 18th century map named Virginia, Marylandia et Carolina in America Septentrionali Britannorum Industria Exculte Representate, created by Johann Baptist Homann, shows borders of the Middle-Atlantic colonies in the 18th century. The viewer can easily catch the changes in borders from then to today. For example in the map, the colony of Virginia engulfs what would be West Virginia, the western portion of Maryland, and northwestern North Carolina in modern times. Also, the in the furthest west part of the map, where today’s Western Pennsylvania and Ohio would be, is actually Florida. The most astonishing and shocking detail I found from the map was that the colony of New Jersey, which in this map was in pretty much today’s border, was split into two: East New Jersey and West New Jersey. For over twenty years, because of land sales and religious disputes, New Jersey was split into two, and its border was disputed for many years until it was finally unified in the early 18th century. The multiple unbelievable aspects of this map, along with other colonial maps, lets the observer dive back into a more simpler time and lets them notice the substantial changes made from then to now.

In most instances, historical maps can examine glory, divine purpose, and even denigration to the creator’s opposites. They can also infer the desire for growth. This can be understood from most maps in the collection, but mostly from the 19th century maps of Allentown. We can tell from these maps that there is room to grow for this thriving metropolis. The outskirts of the city are left blank giving the viewer the idea that there is hope of expansion for an even more prosperous society. These inferences can tie to American Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion, where we had divine purpose to settle the west and have more of a chance to achieve their American Dream.

From Harley’s elaborations, to the overall examples of the maps, we learn from the Ray Brennen Map Collection at Muhlenberg College that the maps indicate certain messages from the cartographer that can be explained through the changes in the depicted area from the time of creation. Today’s society does not understand the real nature of maps that we went in depth with by taking this course. Unfortunately they are only used for navigation in the modern world. However a major topic to think is how society would be if everyone understood every aspect of maps. If that can ever be true, society will be even more affluent, and individuals will be even more successful in their ever-going quest for knowledge.

Brennan Maps/Final ROUGH DRAFT

 

In cartography, there is much more than just creating maps. Within these created maps, observations can be made and conclusions can be drawn from the details of the maps about the changes throughout time and the messages it tells the viewer.

In The New Nature of Maps, the author J.B. Harley talks of how textbooks and projections tell the system how the Earth should be represented. Then, he disagrees with that idea. He does this by writing that Cartographers concede “that they employ rhetorical devices in the form of embellishment or ornament, but they maintain that beneath this cosmetic skin is always the bedrock of truthful science… As images of the world, maps are maps are never neutral or value-free or ever completely scientific” (Harley 37). Harley explains the idea of maps as always being biased and never truly correct. The devices of rhetoric that lie beneath the “cosmetic skin” are the biased ideals that make maps never truly correct.

Harley introduces the idea of blank spaces after bringing up that maps have an iconological symbolism to them. He then argues “The notion of “silences” on maps is central to any argument about the influence of their hidden political messages. It is asserted here that maps — just as much examples of literature or the spoken word — exert a social influence through their omissions as much as by the features they depict and emphasize” (Harley 67). Harley talks of how the blanks or “silences” within the map are the places where cartographers include the expressions, inferences, and ideals on certain political, social, economic, or intellectual topics. The 19th Century map of Martinique is a good example from the Brennan Collection. The bottom left shows a beautifully painted depiction of the French Colonists settling the island. The viewer can understand the cartographer’s support of the colonization because of the inclusion of two gods (Poseidon and Apollo) guiding and protecting the French ships to the new world to colonize and spread their influence. The cartographer had the belief that it was the French’s divine purpose to spread their “privilege” and monarchist ideology to new lands.

Blank spaces in maps do generate one’s ideas, yet at the same time, what most viewers do not see is that they silence oppositional ideas. That is, the depictions within the blank spaces directly and intentionally shut down ideas the cartographer doesn’t agree with. Harley writes “In colonial mapping, as in eighteenth-century North America, silences on maps may also be regarded as discrimination against native peoples” (Harley 67). Harley says here that these silences actually silence the cartographer’s opposition. In the Martinique map, the blank space depicts the natives on their knees in front of their settlers, showing that they failed in resisting the colonization. This representation shows the cartographer’s belief of the inferiority of the natives. It also takes away the Natives view in the map. Natives at this time supported the European settlers because of the exchange in raw materials and livestock. Most of the time until the wars in North America in the 1700s and westward expansion, the natives and European settlers tolerated each other. Another example would be the map on page 80 in Harley. It is an outline map of Southern Africa that in the center of it displays an angel-like person lecturing white British explorers to settle and take advantage of the economic wealth from the resources of the land of Zambesia, in which the British call their “El Dorado” of Africa. While resembling the beauty of the filled blank, I realized that the indigenous population of Zambesia was excluded from this work. This is because maps like these try to “desocialize” the place they are in so they can show more of the groups that are taking over and promote the glorious nationalism of the country’s imperialist ideologies. This also made me realize that the cartographer filled this blank with such beauty to purposely distract me from realizing there was no indigenous population. This distraction makes a clear point of how the cartographer tries to silence their opposition, which in this case is Zambesia’s native population, whose message could have been that the British were invading their land and were not welcome in their eyes.

Two topics can be introduced from viewing historical maps: what the area was like back then and the changes that were made between then and now. The collection’s maps of Allentown and all the Colonial America maps from the 17th and 18th century are examples of this. They depict the borders, major points of interest, and streets that change drastically over time. Harley explains that maps from the “territorial treatises to town planning, and from railroads to the rectangular grid, they underline the making of modern America” (Harley 48). The 18th century map named Virginia, Marylandia et Carolina in America Septentrionali Britannorum Industria Exculte Representate, created by Johann Baptist Homann, shows borders of the Middle-Atlantic colonies in the 18th century. The viewer can easily catch the changes in borders from then to today. For example in the map, the colony of Virginia engulfs what would be West Virginia, the western portion of Maryland, and northwestern North Carolina in modern times. Also, the in the furthest west part of the map, where today’s Western Pennsylvania and Ohio would be, is actually Florida. The most astonishing and shocking detail I found from the map was that the colony of New Jersey, which in this map was in pretty much today’s border, was split into two: East New Jersey and West New Jersey. For over twenty years, because of land sales and religious disputes, New Jersey was split into two, and its border was disputed for many years until it was finally unified in the early 18th century. The multiple unbelievable aspects of this map, along with other colonial maps, lets the observer dive back into a more simpler time and lets them notice the substantial changes made from then to now.

Weekly Writing 9: Reading Myself

This semester, I saw more writings and more papers in one semester alone than I saw in all of my four years in high school. It seemed to be unthinkable of the overwhelming nature of how many papers I had to write with the small number of courses that I took. With all of these writings, I feel that my overall writing performance has changed for the better, but that change is minimal. However, my overall perception of writing has changed drastically. The perception being the writing process and the way I view writing.

In high school, I learned that I should write papers in order from thesis to conclusion, which made it hard because they wanted their students to start off with what most people say is the hardest part. Here at Muhlenberg, I have been taught to open my mind and start off my papers by writing freely, and then add in my thesis statement and conclusion around it. This was taught to me around the middle of the semester. Examples from my writing portfolio can be the rough drafts from my two formal writings. I wrote my first formal paper with the method I learned in high school. First off, it took me a while to write because I had a hard time thinking about a thesis. After a while, I figured out a thesis paragraph but it was very poor. Then, I had little to think of examples and elaborations to help fit that already-substandard thesis. The rough draft ended up being an absolute disaster, and I implied from the peer review that I had to completely re-do this paper. With help about finding new ideas from the Writing Center and my professors, I ultimately did well on this paper.

I now had experience for the second formal writing. Not only did I learn to write freely before the topic paragraph and the conclusion but if I was stuck I could find my professors and go to the Writing Center for help. I used this new process on the second formal writing’s rough draft and, in my opinion, it looked like it was ready to be submitted for a final grade. At the peer review, I received praising feedback as well as critique on it, but the main thing I acquired from art that I had a true baseline to build on, instead of devastation and rubble that I had to rebuild from scratch like the first formal writing. In the end, I did an incredible job and received a great overall feedback when I turned it in.

I also gained a new view of writing since I started here at Muhlenberg. The view is based on interest, meaning I will thrive in writing if I have an interest in what I am writing. Having that interest can help in writing freely and it makes writing easier overall. I talk about this in my portfolio writing titled Myself as a Writer. In this writing, I state that having more interest in something will see more dedication in it. I give the example of my application essay, where I wrote about my interests. I talked about how I mostly write stories that are set during Colonial and Revolutionary War America because I gain interest from that point in history and could write for days about that period.

Before Muhlenberg, I selfishly thought of myself as a great writer and I felt that I had nothing to worry about. I was wrong on every point. Yet with the initiative taken to go get help with my writing and get general understandings of new writing methods, I could say my writing has improved.

Free Write on Plus Ultra

“As I paused upon my map… the future the future characters of the book began to appear there visibly among imaginary woods” (217).  From this quote, I implied that nothing is ever really final. Also, you can build from something that one thinks is really final. An example in literature or in film could be a sequel. The original story is done, however, there are many more stories that can be created from that one story. They can be added so much that it could create a series/franchise (Star Wars, James Bond).

Adding Another Map for Thanksgiving

Another Thanksgiving map that I would create that was not in the 14 maps that depict Thanksgiving article would be a map that only talks about the people at the original Thanksgiving. It would depict illustrations to the extent of caricatures of the Pilgrims and the Natives and it would give historical information of who they really are. I feel that people do not really know the history of the First Thanksgiving so I feel this would help.

What a good Thanksgiving Map would look like

In an ideal Thanksgiving map, it should be a picture of the first Thanksgiving happening in Plymouth with an overview map on the top showing exactly where they are. On the pilgrims side, there should be some information about where the pilgrims came from and what they brought. It should also be the same with the Natives. On the table, there should be information about the foods that are eaten at Thanksgiving. For example, the percentages of people that eat stuffing, or the state that produces the most turkey. On the outside of the table is the historical information and then on the inside of the table (where the food is), it should be current information.

Formal Paper 2: Mapping the Details ROUGH DRAFT

“By accepting maps as fundamental documents for the study of American past, we begin to appreciate how frequently maps intersect major historical processes. From territorial treaties to town planning, from railroads to the rectangular grid, they underline the making of modern America” (Harley 48). The viewing of historical maps gives the reader a realistic idea of two major topics: what the area was like back then and the changes that were made between then and now. The Trexler Library’s 1876 map of Allentown shows these two major topics. Looking at this map also brings up ideas of comparison between ideas gained from the map itself to the overall history of the United States, with that correlation being Allentown’s and the United States’ expansion to the west.

The Allentown map from 1876 explores the homely feel of the city during the reconstruction period where the observer can distinguish many changes from then and now solely based on the details inside the map. One major change is the growth of the city, Allentown in the 1870’s only reaches out to only 17 numbered streets to the west and really only has the Center City area. Today, Allentown has over 30 numbered streets and along with the Center City, there is a new West End residential neighborhood with parks, markets, and shopping centers. Another major change would be the location of the fairgrounds. In the 1876 map, the Allentown fairgrounds were between fifth and sixth streets and above Liberty Street, where today you can find residential homes all over the area of the old fairgrounds, with Kim’s Market at the place where the entrance used to be. The location of the current fairgrounds is where the Griesemers Woods are found in 1876.

The most astonishing detail from this map was that Muhlenberg College was actually in Center City Allentown at the time. From the opening of the school in 1848 to 1905, the formerly-named Allentown Seminary, which was replaced by the Allentown Military and Collegiate Institute during the Civil War, which then was renamed to Muhlenberg College in 1867, was located on the corner of W Walnut Street and S 4th Street. Then in 1905, land was purchased in the new West End of Allentown to move the college.

This purchase of the new land in Western Allentown can correlate to the purchases and annexations by the United States to expand their borders out west. I compare the “Muhlenberg Purchase of 1905” to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Obviously the size of the land purchased was a major difference but it is the idea of the purchases that are the same. Yes, both purchases were to get more land because both didn’t have enough land to expand. However, these purchases were done so we could have more land to expand and express our ideals, to see new ideas and expressions be created, and to bring forth our divine influence upon the newly purchased area. Muhlenberg wanted this new land to build more of a campus to have more young minds come in to create and expand new ideas and encounter new things. The US government purchased Louisiana from the French so they could have more land to build more of their great country to help give their citizens a fresh start in a new place to build and increase their own ideals. These groups consisted of many political and religious congregations. The movement of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, which was mostly shunned and criticized by Catholic and Protestant influence in the east, moved out to modern day Utah to build their church and grow their ideas in that area, then once it became prominent in that one area, they expanded back out east to spread their name. Today, Mormonism is recognized as a large religion in the United States with their churches all over the country, their own learning institutions (ex. Brigham Young University), and government influence.

The details inside the map of Allentown from 1876 makes the viewer imply ideas about westward expansion. The expansions of Allentown and the United States, however, did have negative impacts upon people and things that benefitted the ones expanding. The American expansion to the west tore up and eventually destroyed many Native American groups in the Western lands because of their failed resistance of the settling peoples and assimilation within American culture. The deforestation of the Griesemers Woods led to the eventual building of the new Allentown fairgrounds where it is an everyday meeting place that tries to bring a closer sense of community within the Allentown population. Even with resistance and the hurting of lands, the expanding parties had to strive forward. Because the settling of these new lands, whether if its all the way passed the Mississippi or just a mile across Allentown, did help lead to the creation and the prominence of new great ideas and movements that impact everyday American society today from Muhlenberg and all around our great nation.

Turchi: Theater of the World Part 1 Free Write

I saw the map of the New Yorker’s point of view on the rest of America and the world outside the city (page 138) as humorously stereotypical. The stereotype is that New Yorker’s don’t understand that there is a whole world outside the city. Since I’m not a New Yorker, I thought this was funny because you get the sense that a New Yorker’s world facing west ends at the Hudson River. And it’s funny because they don’t realize there is a beautiful country called the United States of America outside the not really friendly confines of Manhattan.

Up-to-Date Writing or just Straight Up Free Write

The last time we read the You are Here book, we only focused on and talked about the three maps based on Halloween in Boylan Heights, NC. In that reading, however, there were multiple maps that were extremely interesting that we never covered. One map in particular was the Mem-o-Map of Europe on page 119. This was a map of Europe that within the countries had illustrations of the particular things and cultures native to that country. For example, around Madrid, Spain there is a matador toying with the bull, which is something native to Spanish culture. In Norway, there is an illustration of a log cabin in snow. This map somewhat takes me back to my childhood because I loved looking at pictures, especially if they were in maps. Based on that, I really had fun reading this map.

Maps of Boylan Heights Free Write

The main idea I got out of this reading were the representation of the three maps shown from this reading. These maps represent how there is a difference between rich and poor. The bigger houses on the top of the hill that are mentioned are the houses that have the more jack-o-lanterns (Map on 105). And I see on the bottom of this map that there are less jack-o-lanterns. I feel that after looking at this map in particular (105) is that the houses on the top are not more celebratory than the others, I see this as the people in those houses having a higher income than the others on the bottom of the hill based on what Wood says about the bigger houses. The houses on the  top of the map are the rich, and then the bottom of the map are poor. In the third map, the cluster of big bubbles show this “top of the hill” that is mentioned in the other map. The cluster of big bubbles show who the rich of the area, or the most prominent people of the neighborhood are.