The Map as Narrative

We’ll always have Paris . . . at least until the end of March, in the exhibition The Map as Narrative: Cartographic Evolution of Parisian Space, 1836–2015. Now on view in the Special Collections Instruction Gallery (Sawyer 408), this display stems from the honors thesis of Hannah Benson, Class of 2017, in which she views the map as a text or narrative which tells the story of a space and the people who live and work in it. “The narrative qualities of the map,” she says, “document physical and mental motion, reflect temporality and memory, and allow the map to recount how space is lived rather than how it is conceived.” On a visit to Paris, she asked Parisians to complete a blank map of the city in whatever way reflected their conception of Paris. The exhibition combines a selection of these personal maps with guidebooks and maps of Paris from the Chapin Library’s collections.