Week 11: Mapping

This week I’m not going to post class materials until Thursday. We technically only have “Tuesday” off, but it’s going to be a very, very tough week for many reasons, between covid, elections, weather, etc. etc. etc. so I want to give you another little break.

So your assignment for “Monday” is to GO VOTE if you haven’t done so yet.

Here are a few things you might want to listen to while you’re standing in line to vote (fully, fully optional):

  • If you have questions about the election process, or how the electoral college was created, or other historical questions about elections, I’d recommend Throughline’s series on (Mis)Representative Democracy (transcripts available on each page as well):
  • If you want to stop thinking about elections until four years from now (and I don’t blame you!), perhaps you might like these instead:
    • If you want to know about the sound design for Jurassic Park, one of the coolest-sounding movies ever, check out this episode, Tyrannosaurus FX, from Twenty Thousand Hertz
    • An incredibly compelling story about 1-800 numbers—it doesn’t go where you think: America’s Hottest Talkline, from Reply All


Today we’re looking at maps! You might have spent a significant amount of time looking at maps over the past few days, so it’s important that you understand how to read them.

Listen to our podcast for today, or read the transcript here.

This is the West Wing clip you’re going to need midway through the podcast…

If you think this projection thing is crazy, try out for yourself how the Mercator projection distorts relative size here.

Small Project #6

Using KnightLab’s StoryMapJS, we’re going to be making a narrative map. As outlined in the podcast above, here are the parameters:

  • Pick one (1) person from your war that you want to follow around through his or her experiences in the war. You may pick anyone you like, though consider whether you’ll be able to find enough information about your person. Only one person is off-limits: George Washington.
  • Research the person’s experiences in the war, and come up with between 5 and 20 places that he or she went to during the war. Make sure you also write down the significance of those places!
  • Using StoryMapJS, map the journey of your person.
  • Embed your StoryMap into a blog post. In that blog post, also tell me why you chose that person and what you learned about your war from following him or her. Also include a bibliography of the sources you used, both primary and secondary, to find out about your person.
  • Submit using our usual Google Form!

A tutorial on StoryMap can be found here (sorry for the low-resolution, I’m not sure why it’s so bad, but you can still follow it, I think).