Schedule and Readings

Week 1: August 31: Introductions & Course Overview




Week 2: September 7: Tubes & Wires, Cables & Waves

FIELD TRIP: Tour of cellphone infrastructure with architect Michael Chen and Justin Snider. I will contact you via email w/ the rendezvous info. If we finish early, we’ll probably meet somewhere nearby to continue the conversation.



Week 3: September 14: Putting the Urban into Media Archaeology

ACTIVITY: Looking at Past Student Projects

GUEST: Stephen Taylor, Fall 2010 UMA Student, “Edison and the Early Electrification of New York City” – Show front end and behind-the-scenes, e.g., record types, fields, etc.



Week 4: September 21: Digital Humanities & Assessment Rubrics


IN-CLASS CRITIQUE: Group critiques of multimodal projects, TBD – likely to include examples from Vectors, Kairos, Sensate




Week 5: October 5: Research Strategies

ACTIVITY: Presentations of Project Proposals



Week 6: October 12: Mapping Along X, Y, and Z Axes

URT: Creating Your Subprojects

IN-CLASS CRITIQUE: HyperCities + Stanford Spatial History Project

FILM: Charles and Ray Eames, Powers of Ten


  • Denis Wood and John Fels, Excerpts from “The Nature of Maps” In The Natures of Maps: Cartographic Constructions of the Natural World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008): 6-16. [the pdf includes additional pages, but you need only read to p. 16]
  • James Corner, Excerpts (Intro, “The Agency of Mapping,” “Maps and Reality” & “Mapping Operations”) from “The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention” In Denis Cosgrove, Ed., Mappings (London: Reaktion, 1999): 213-217, 221-225, 229-231.
  • Alison Sant, “Redefining the BasemapIntelligent Agent 6:2 (n.d.).
  • Jeremy Hight, “Rhizomatic Cartography: Modulated Mapping and the Spatial NetNeMe (May 5, 2009).
  • Scan through some of my other bookmarked sites on mapping


The second half of the semester is dedicated primarily to (1) map critiques, (2) self-directed reading and research, and (3) hands-on work. We may need to make changes to the syllabus so our in-class time can best support your individual and collaborative work. I ask that you please be flexible and responsive.


Week 7: October 19: Mapping Platforms & Politics

GUEST: Matt Knutzen, Assistant Chief, Map Division, New York Public Library

MAPS: Student Presentations: Choose from Atlas on Class Website


  • Anne Kelly Knowles, “GIS and History” In Anne Knowles, Ed., Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS are Changing Historical Scholarship (Redlands, CA: ESRI Press, 2008): 1-26.

We may not discuss the following, but they’re still worth your time!


Week 8: October 26: URT: Spatialized Data Modeling; Plotting Points, Routes & Areas

MAPS: Student Presentations


  • Excerpts from Raghu Ramakrishnan and Johannes Gehrke, Database Management Systems, 2nd Ed. (McGraw Hill, 2003). [Remember: you’re reading not to develop expertise — some of this might be difficult to digest — but to familiarize yourself with some of the key terms, and to help you begin to “think like a database.”]
  • Michael F. Worboys, Hilary M. Hearnshaw & David J. Maguire, “Object-Oriented Data Modelling for Spatial DatabasesInternational Journal of Geographical Information Systems 4:4 (1990): 369-383. [Some of this might be over your heads; just give it your best shot!]
  • Optional: Scan through my bookmarked sites on urban archaeology and consider how one might “data model” the sites, systems, processes, represented in some of these projects.


Week 9: November 2: Pecha Kucha & Conceptual Design Feedback

PREP: PECHA KUCHA: Learn about PechaKuchas here. See also Olivia Mitchell’s “Five Presentation Tips for Pecha Kucha or Ignite PresentationSpeaking About Presenting [blog post], and check out some videos of Ignite presentations. As you’ll see, PechaKucha presentations typically involve presentations consisting of 20 slides, with 20 seconds dedicated to each. In the interest of time, we’re going to limit our presentations to 12 slides at 20 seconds each.

GUEST CRITICS: Jane Pirone, Jessica Irish & Joseph Heathcott


Week 10: November 9: User Scenarios & Paper Prototyping

URT: Record Types & Fields

MAPS: Student Presentations

READING/SCREENINGS [Note: These are all short (1-2-pp.) guides to help you prepare for our in-class prototyping activity.]

PREP FOR CLASS: Think about what major arguments you hope to make through your project, or what stories you hope to tell. How could users navigate through your finished project (yes, this involves some projection into the future!) and come away having comprehended your argument or story, and achieved your desired user experience? Now, write or sketch two or three brief (one page max) user scenarios that tell the story of how different users might navigate through your project to achieve a particular goal. Finally, consider how you’d actualize that scenario on a paper prototype – a prototype not of the overall URT interface, but of a user’s concrete interaction with your particular project. We’ll be constructing our prototypes in class – e.g., using yarn to represent paths, scraps of paper to represent photos or other media – but if you have a particular preference for how you’d like to materially prototype your project on a paper map, you’re welcome to bring your own “crafty” materials.


Week 11: November 16: URT: Cartographic Arguments – Short Class This Week

MAPS: Student Presentations

INDIVIDUAL MEETINGS: Sign up for an individual 20-minute meeting to review your research dossier and draft map




Week 12: November 30: Networking Nodes

MAPS: Student Presentations

Through various group exercises (e.g., “speed dating,” interviewing one another) students will explore possible connections between their own projects and their classmates’. We’ll discuss what we might learn by layering or networking these projects on the map — and what modes of presentation can help us to convey these larger, multi-project arguments.


Week 13: December 7: Independent/Group Work & Individual Consultations


Week 14: December 14: Final Presentations


Week 15: December 19: Peer Review & Semester Reflection

Over the course of the semester, we’ll have collaboratively agreed upon standards for evaluation of map-based multimodal scholarship. Today we’ll critically evaluate one another’s projects based on those criteria, as if we were officially reviewing works for publication.

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