Chicago Map Society: Martin Brueckner, The Spectacle of Maps in America, 1750-1800

Thursday, March 18, 2010
Chicago Map Society Meeting

This talk will explore the rise of wall maps as a popular decorative object during the period encompassing the first consumer revolution in North America. Taking his cue from much overlooked 18th-century definitions that declared maps to be “pictures,” Prof. Brueckner will talk about how display maps intersected with theories of visual representation, decorative/architectural design, and actual display practices. Considering, among others, Henry Popple’s Map of the British Empire (1733, the century’s largest map), Lewis Evans’ Map of the Middle British Colonies (1755), and John Mitchell’s Ma of the British and French dominions in North America (1755), Prof. Brueckner will track their decorative uses as they and other map-like objects circulated through public assembly halls and private parlors. He hopes to demonstrate how decorative maps may have “carto-coded” early America in surprisingly uncartographic ways, affecting everything from domestic living culture to ideas about modern interiority.