Select Page

Anne-Rieke van Schaik MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: Art History, Early Modern History, Memory Studies

Cohort/Start PhD: 2022-2023

Navigating through Narratives: Cartographic Storytelling in the Early Modern Low Countries (ca. 1550-1750)

University of Amsterdam

Supervisor(s): Prof. Bram Vannieuwenhuyze, Dr Elmer Kolfin

Starting year: 2022

In the early modern Low Countries, political and geographical changes, caused by warfare, state formation, imperialism, inundations, and land reclamation, (re)shaped landscape and territory. These transformations were narrated by various media that were disseminated to a wide audience, including ‘story maps’: maps that combine narrative and spatial data to tell a story. Yet, what was the narrative impact of maps, and what was their impact on public opinion? This project starts from the premise that maps not only served as tools to represent geographic knowledge, but also as devices to shape public opinion and to create a specific understanding of space regarding events in the past and the present. Moreover, my claim is that cartographic storytelling contributed to the growth of cartographic literacy and spatial awareness and knowledge in society. To test these claims, I investigate how and for what purposes and audiences story maps shaped new and existing narratives concerning spatial events. From a large corpus of sources, I will select several seismic events that substantially generated the production and consumption of story maps as research cases. A new narrative-cartographical methodology will be developed to assess the narrativity of these premodern maps and their involvement in the public sphere and memory culture.

In this way, the project adds the ‘storytelling’ approach to examine the power of maps as well as it adds the early modern perspective to the rising, modern research field of ‘narrative cartography’. Innovative tools, methods and frameworks are introduced to understand the dynamic interplays between cartography, storytelling, public opinion, memory and media in the early modern period.