School of English

The Cartographic Imagination: Art, Literature and Mapping in the United States, 1945-1980

Friday 18th-Saturday 19th May 2018, Reid Hall, 4 Rue de Chevreuse, 75006, Paris, France

Organisers: Monica Manolescu (University of Strasbourg); Will Norman (University of Kent)

Keynote speakers: Lize Mogel (independent artist), David Herd (University of Kent) and Stephen Collis (Simon Fraser University)

Keynote speakers

Lize Mogel is an interdisciplinary artist and counter-cartographer. Her work intersects the fields of popular education, cultural production, public policy, and mapping. She has mapped public parks in Los Angeles; future territorial disputes in the Arctic; and wastewater economies in New York City. She is co-editor of "An Atlas of Radical Cartography,” a project that significantly influenced the conversation and production around mapping and activism.

Exhibitions include the Sharjah (U.A.E.), Gwangju (South Korea) and Pittsburgh Biennials, "Greater New York" (PS1, New York City), "Experimental Geography", and the upcoming “Diagrams of Power” (OCAD, Toronto). She has been an artist in residence at Headlands Center for the Arts, Community Artist-in-Residence at the Whitney Museum, and is currently part of the inaugural Research & Design group for Fresh Kills Park in New York City.

Spatial Politics

Graphic designer John Emerson defines counter-cartography as a practice that uses maps and mapping “to challenge the mainstream narrative of a site or history, from a political or activist perspective.” Counter-mapping uses and appropriates cartographic conventions—including data, image, and language—in order to analyze and represent power dynamics, as part of a collective effort working towards social change. In this talk, I will explore key projects from the past 10 years of my own work and that of other artists/cartographers in the expanded fields of art and mapping. These will demonstrate how counter-maps produce a situated spatial politics.

I will cover three areas: First, I will diagram my own counter-cartographic practice through a lens of art history, tracing its lineage (or itinerary) of place-based and performative spatial practices from the 1960s onward, and academic geography. Second, I will examine the instrumental role of language in situating the counter-map within various publics and disciplinary frameworks. Lastly, I will explore the potential for the counter-map to move from the realm of representation to that of political actor.

David Herd’s collections of poetry include All Just (Carcanet 2012), Outwith (Bookthug 2012) and Through (Carcanet, 2016). He has given readings and lectures in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Poland, the USA and the UK, and his poems, essays and reviews have been widely published in magazines, journals and newspapers. He is the author of John Ashbery and American Poetry, Enthusiast! Essays on Modern American Literature, and the editor of Contemporary Olson. His recent writings on the politics of human movement have appeared in Detention Unlocked, Los Angeles Review of Books, Parallax, PN Review and the TLS.  He is a co-organiser of the project Refugee Tales and Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Kent.

Stephen Collis’s many books of poetry include The Commons (Talon Books 2008; 2014), On the Material (Talon Books 2010—awarded the BC Book Prize for Poetry), DECOMP (with Jordan Scott—Coach House 2013), and Once in Blockadia (Talon Books 2016—nominated for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature). He has also written two books of literary criticism, on poets Susan Howe and Phyllis Webb, a book of essays on the Occupy Movement, and a novel. Almost Islands is a forthcoming memoir, and a long poem, Sketch of a Poem I Will Not Have Written, are in progress. He lives near Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish Territory, and teaches poetry and poetics at Simon Fraser University.

Stephen Collis and David Herd will be delivering a joint lecture:

Making Space for the Human: Rights, the Anthropocene, and Recognition

This lecture takes as its focus the period 1948-1958. The reasons for that focus are three-fold. First, the period was witness to two inaugural events in the history of the category of the human: the publication, in 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the tipping point, around 1950, of the period now being defined as the Anthropocene. Second, the period was witness to a scale of human displacement unequalled until our own moment, and also to responses to that displacement, in the form of detention, that have come to characterize the contemporary period. Third, the period saw the emergence of a discourse of ‘recognition’ and ‘appearance’ that it is valuable to revisit, since once again it is necessary to arrive at formulations of the category of the human that have the intention of ensuring that nobody falls out. In addressing this complex of considerations, the lecture will explore two key themes. It will address the fact that the UDHR sought to spatialise an understanding of the human, and will weigh the difficulties of that spatialisation against the emergence of the Anthropocene. It will further consider how, in light of the UDHR, the poet Charles Olson and the political theorist Hannah Arendt undertook to formulate spaces of recognition and appearance that might meet, or at least acknowledge, the larger movements that in their different discourses they sought to map. The lecture will ask how far, in the cartographic imaginations of Olson and Arendt, one finds resources for thinking about the dynamics of human movement in the present moment, and how any such thinking must, of necessity, register the simultaneous emergence of the Anthropocene and its effects.




School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 823054

Last Updated: 03/05/2018