Glossary Entry 4/3

Map: Wood and Fels refer to maps as “historically contingent sign systems” (1992). Maps work because they selectively represent interests from the past, and these interests are rhetorically bound and concentrated in class, gender, occupation, etc. [KP]

Wood, D., & Fels, J. (1992). The power of maps. Guilford Press.

Standpoint: In class, we differentiated perspective and standpoint. Perspective can be considered physically–it is an act of looking, an ocular operation. Standpoint, on the other hand, is formed by identity. Our standpoint is so innate to who we are that it is pre-cognitive. Barthes would find that standpoint lends itself to punctum, because punctum draws on our unique identities.

Barthes, R. (1981). Camera lucida: Reflections on photography. Macmillan.

Brooke Notes 4/3/17


Wood, Denis. “Maps Work by Serving Interests.”

Text Citation:

Wood, Denis. “Maps Work by Serving Interests,” The Power of Maps, Guilford, 1992, pp. 4-25.


In this chapter, Wood discusses the function and value of maps. He explains that maps connect us with the past and the present and allow us to interact with previous cartographers of the same land. Through maps, we connect with each other, as well as with the world around us because maps allow us to do so. Wood claims this chapter, “attempts to say how it is that maps work, how they make present –so that we can use it today—the accumulated thought and labor of the past” (2).


Maps (4)

Present (7)

Future (7)

Past (7)

Labor (15)

Reality (18)

Quotations (2-3):

“And this, essentially is what maps give us, reality, a reality that exceeds our vision, our reach, the span of our days, a reality we achieve no other way” (Wood 4).

“Ultimately, the map presents us with the reality we know as differentiated from the reality we see and hear and feel. The map doesn’t let us see anything, but it does let us know what others have seen or found out or discovered, other often living but more often dead, the things they learned piled up in the layer on top of layer so that to study even the simplest-looking image is to peer back through ages of cultural acquisition” (Wood 7).

“It is this ability to link the territory with what comes with it that has made maps so valuable to so many for so long” (Wood 10).

 Better simply…to admit it that knowledge of the map is knowledge of the world from which it emerges—as a casting from its mold, as a shoe from its last—isomorphic counter-image to everything in a society that conspires to produce it” (Wood 18).

 “That is, maps, all maps, inevitable, unavoidably, necessarily embody their authors’ prejudices, biases and partialities (not to mention the less frequently observed art, curiosity, elegance, focus, care, imagination, attention, intelligence and scholarship their makers’ bring to their labor)” (Wood 24).


If maps allow us to experience the world in a more specific way, seen through the eyes of the past (Wood 9), but we still live our lives in the way we choose, regardless of the impact of the map, then what true impact do maps have on our realities?

This may sound cynical, but I can’t help but wonder about the usage of maps. If, as Wood claims, maps play a vital role in our society by linking the past with the present, especially regarding property taxes and the function of the land, then why doesn’t society utilize maps in a more mainstream fashion?

 “That is, maps, all maps, inevitable, unavoidably, necessarily embody their authors’ prejudices, biases and partialities (not to mention the less frequently observed art, curiosity, elegance, focus, care, imagination, attention, intelligence and scholarship their makers’ bring to their labor)” (Wood 24). Wood discusses the authors’ influences on maps here, and I can’t help but wonder: how do these influences affect the reliability of maps as artifacts of reality?

Further Reading:

Harley, Brian J. “Text and Contexts in the Interpretation of Early Maps.” From Sea Charts to Satellite Images: Interpreting North American History Through Maps, edited by David Buisseret, U of Chicago P, 1990, pp. 3-4.

Mueller, Derek, et al. “Emplaced Disciplinary Networks from Middle Altitude.” Cross-Border Networks in Writing Studies, Inkshed and Parlor Press, 2017, pp. 20-45.

Big Ideas – 4/3

Maps provide us with a way of constructing knowledge and understanding the world around us. Wood acknowledges that the purpose of maps is to “present us not with the world we can see, but to point toward a world we might know” (12). Further, the knowledge represented through maps cannot be taken as Truth because all cartographers create maps through their own lens with which they understand the world. That is, we must consider “the agency of the mapper” to examine potential biases that are inevitably embodied through maps (Wood 24). [NW]

March 20

Look at the page 102 in Unflattening, Sousanis includes only two panels, both showing rain.

The two panels are significantly different and demonstrate different emotional situations.

How are the details in these images different or similar to each other?

What do the details communicate?

Finally, the focus is on the details used to show the rain to communicate different emotions.

Discuss the two panels.

Consider ways to describe rain.

What words do we use?

What are some of the phrases we use when talking about rain?

Stop Draw 3/20

Sousanis discusses the power we have, “it’s the capacity to host a multiplicity of worlds inside us” (96), and he uses the analogy of a door to introduce the expansiveness of our imaginations.

With this in mind, draw the door to your imagination.

Reading Question 3/20

Sousanis discusses several dimensions in his text, and at this point, we arrive at the fifth dimension. These frames illustrate that from the same mind that creates dimensions, it also limits them by our habits (111). Advocating for “plasticity,” we need to lessen our habitual tendencies or learn flexibility. What I am struggling to grasp is then why Sousanis chooses to illustrate/write a graphical book. What do we need to re-learn or be more flexible on in order to comprehend more opportunities than a book for composition? At what point do we stop forming habits?

Big Ideas 3/20

  1. Visual knowing is a knowing in relationship—relationships of movement. The eyes constantly move, discerning depth. Marks across a surface create contours and define relationships of interiority and exteriority and of impressions between marks, viewers, situations. These impressions are a seeing, but a seeing this is always a seeing like that. We see from vantage points that can vary, but are always creating gaps even as they create new relationships (Sousanis, p. 72-74, 150). [TP]

Glossary 3/20

Perceptual Experience: Sousanis cites Alva Noe’s suggestion that perceptual experience is a way of encountering how thing are by making contact with how they appear to be (Sousanis, 73). Sousanis asserts that by being able to hold dual views of what something appears to be while recognizing other aspects of its appearance, we negotiate experience.

Derive: When speaking of how a person shifting the routes they take, rather than taking the same consistent path again and again, allows them to encounter different sights and make new connections, Sousanis mentions derive, which is a walk conceived of as a playful drifting rather than a goal-oriented journey (Susaanis, 112). Hence, shaking up our approaches and processes can help us avoid getting caught in a visual rut.