Nineteenth-century cities posed unprecedented challenges given the availability of information that could be spatially represented.

Advances in geographic surveying, the development of photography, the emergence of geography as a discipline, and even the term “cartography” are all products of the nineteenth century and carried significant weight in the practice of mapping cities during that time. This class will look at maps produced in selected cities of Europe, United States, northern Africa, and South and Southeast Asia, exploring the impact of industrial expansion, colonial ambitions, frontier enterprises, and technological developments in transportation and telecommunication. Readings span a range of disciplines to encompass the experience of the nineteenth-century city as well as a theoretical perspective of the act of mapping the metropole versus the colonial city.


  • to consider maps as products of the cultures and intellectual climate in which they were made
  • to provide an art historical overview of nineteenth-century cities as portrayed through mapping practices
  • to situate key moments in the history of nineteenth-century urban mapping to a larger discourse of spatial thinking and postcolonial critiques


  • to research the experience of a nineteenth-century city using primary source materials
  • to clearly and visually organize that data in a deep-mapping project
  • to develop a critical essay that examines a chosen topic of the deep mapping project in the context of spatial thinking and postcolonial critiques
  • to converse fluently about the function of maps


Our Tuesday meetings will be structured by lectures on historical mapping practices, and on occasion I will reserve time at the end of class for reviewing our digital projects in progress. For our Thursday meetings we will focus on discussion of the assigned reading(s) listed in the “Course Calendar” and reserve time for tutorials and collaborative work on the digital project that will be described in more detail in separate assignment prompts.

As you will note in the “Assignments” section, a large portion of the class is devoted to a digital mapping project. You will be required to create this digital project, but you are not expected to know any programs in advance nor will you have to purchase any software. You may, however, have to learn particular digital skills in order to complete the assignments. There will be ample time provided in classes as well as in EH Open Labs every Tuesday for tutorials and assistance.

The other main component of the course is writing, both informal and formal. We will use writing as a way to think more deeply about the practice of mapping and especially to reflect on our engagement in mapping. It is expected that you will incorporate particular mapping works presented in lectures as well as the ideas we will discuss from the readings into your essay assignments.

Go to Useful Links 

Go to Timeline of Key Moments in the Nineteenth Century