Personal Geographies and Imaginary Worlds

Our two readings for this week both involve what the subtitle of Katherine Harmon’s You Are Here” refers to as “maps of the imagination.” Whether discussing maps of fictional/imaginary places, as in Ricardo Padron’s chapter “Mapping Imaginary Worlds” from¬†Maps: Finding our Place in the World, or the wide variety of unique, interpretive, and often artistically stunning maps in Harmon’s book, the variety of subject matter, points of view, aesthetic choices, and political/ideological perspectives is the first thing you notice. After awhile, though, I found that I could really appreciate that there is a deeper commonality running through all these different maps, and that is that they are all–maps. As Padron writes at the end of his chapter,¬†

“And so, while maps of imaginary worlds do indeed delight, distract, reveal truths, whisper secrets, unsettle, reassure, perhaps they do not do so because they are maps of imaginary worlds, but because they are maps.”

The idea that the map itself is more than a form or even a genre but is instead an actual mode of thinking about the world and our place in it–that’s an idea that could apply not just to this weeks readings, but to this entire course.