Upcoming BMS Events

Monday, January 29, 5:30 reception at the Newsfeed Cafe; 6:30 talk in the Commonwealth Salon of the Boston Public Library
Chet Van Duzer will present a talk called With Savage Pictures Fill their Gaps’: On Cartographers’ Fears of Blank Spaces at the Boston Public Library

Historians of cartography occasionally refer to cartographers’ horror vacui, that is, their fear or hesitancy to leave spaces blank on maps that might be filled with decorations. Some scholars have denied that this impulse was a factor in the design of maps, but the question has never been examined carefully. In this talk I will undertake such an examination, showing that horror vacui was indeed an important factor in the design of maps, at least for some cartographers, from the sixteenth to the early eighteenth century. Some of the factors that motivated cartographers’ concern about empty spaces will also be examined, as will maps by cartographers who evidently did not experience this fear. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries maps began to be thought of as more purely scientific instruments, cartographic decoration declined generally, and cartographers managed to restrain their concern about spaces lacking decoration in the interest of presenting their work as modern and professional.

Tuesday, February 13, 5:39-7:30
Official opening for the exhibition Landmarks: Maps as Literary Illustration including a lecture “Seeing Text, Reading Maps by Harvard Professor Tom Conley

Houghton LibraryHarvard Yard, Cambridge Massachusetts


Tom Conley, Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies and of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University

A world authority on the relations of space and writing in literature, cartography, and cinema, Professor Conley will discuss his lifelong fascination with literary maps. Conley’s most recent essay on the subject appears in the newly published Literature and Cartography : Theories, Histories, Genres, ed. By Anders Engberg-Pedersen (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2017).

For more on the speaker, visit https://ves.fas.harvard.edu/people/tom-conley


March 7, 5:30
Hang a Left at Prohibition Park: the Intersection of Beer and Cartography with Kris Butler, President of the Boston Map Society