Posts Tagged ‘French Revolution’

Earlier this year, I took a course in History of the Book. At that time, I was thinking of books as privileged vehicles of information. Somehow, our culture of literacy in words provides a primary position to books. In the same context, it favors words as the main means of representing meaning. This feeling became more acute in the recent decades, when suddenly some prophets started to predict the apocalypse of the bookish culture and the arrival of the new Dark Age illumined only by the computer monitors.

Closer to the end of this year, I am taking a course in History and Cartography. Suddenly, I’ve started to realize that books are not holders of a monopolist status in the production of knowledge and maps are not only pictorial illustration of books. Moreover, most of the readings from this course started to address the same questions, as I’ve seen in History of the Book. For example, such questions as: What is the role of printing in the development of maps? Are maps powerful in themselves or are they powerful in the hands of some agents? How standardization affected the image and the power of maps?

Last but not least, this post was inspired by an article in Daily Mail. Written by Peter Barber, Head of Map Collections at the British Library, the article “Ten of the greatest: Maps that changed the world,” describes ten maps, which according to the author “transformed the way we view the globe forever.”

Roger Chartier in his cultural history of the French Revolution has a chapter in which he explicitly asks: “Do books make revolutions?”  While Chartier’s answer is more complex, partly it can be resumed as: “Books might not make revolutions but they change our perception of revolutions.” So, to a certain extent, both Barber and Chartier value the contribution of  maps and books to the knowledge architecture of the contemporary world.


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