Mapping, Knowing, Ruling: Cartography, Empire, and Indigenous Peoples in North America, 1492-1821

History R1B.003

Spring 2018
89 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
TuTh 8-9:30
Class Number: 
  • This course satisfies the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement.
  • This course does not count for credit toward the History Major but may fulfill other requirements.
  • In order to conquer a territory, you should know where it is. Yet the European colonization of the Americas started with profound geographic confusion: Christopher Columbus was hoping to reach Asia when he landed in the Caribbean. This course charts the connections between geographic knowledge and European efforts to colonize, conquer, and coexist with indigenous peoples in North America. We will use historic maps to explore encounters between Europeans and Native Americans from early Spanish, British and French colonial projects to the rise of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada as modern nation-states. Students will study maps made by European explorers and Native Americans alike, and reflect on how humans approach cultural difference in the past and the present. The course will also explore maps as objects, the mapping of rivers and oceans, and the ways that maps reflect how diverse peoples in North America understood spaces, places, and themselves.

    Throughout the semester, students will work intensively on reading, interpreting, and writing about historical sources, through looking at maps, analyzing written primary sources, and reading a variety of historical literature. Students will develop reading skills for visual and textual sources, strategies of historical thinking and argumentation, and most importantly, strengthen their voices and techniques as writers through the creation of a scholarly research paper.

    Julia Lewandoski is a PhD Candidate in the History Department. She is broadly interested in Native American History, Atlantic History, and the History of Science. Her dissertation compares indigenous land tenure during European imperial transitions in eighteenth and nineteenth century Quebec, Louisiana, and California.