Map Diary

Tazewell Shepard    


Map-Diary Assignment


            Before this project, I had not put much thought into my daily movements. The notions of place as a literal and physical space, as an abstraction, and as a temporarily surrounding are all concepts I have discussed before in various academic classes. These are, however, not ideas I have concentrated on applying or examining within my own life; situations we discussed in school regarding place were always distant and impersonal and I had little at stake in my interpretation of events. Now, however, I am stuck believing that my movements, actions, and even the reactions found within this paper say something specific about me as a person. They say something about who I am and what I value. What that vague something actually is happens to be a little more uncertain and open for interpretation. After all, one day’s movements are not necessarily an adequate reflection on the sum of a person. To say the least, this experience has been more interesting than I expected. This assignment allows us as students to look critically at the implications of our own movements, but also leaves enough ambiguity to realize that these are just snapshots of our lives and by no means definitive statements. They are ephemeral images of us caught in passing moments.

            The actual things I spent my day doing reads much like a list. It is boring and makes me sound boring. I first left my dorm room at 12:30 to get lunch in the Sadler Center. I finished eating at 1:11 and did some work in the study room. At 1:42 I walked to class in Tucker. After my class finished, I walked to the library to print out a few forms for later that night. Then I walked back to my dorm at 4:05 to waste time before a Morocco study abroad meeting at 5:30 in the Williamsburg Public Library. I drove to the public library. On my way out, I stopped at Wawa to get dinner and then traveled on to my meeting. This event lasted until 6:34. I brought my backpack with me so I could drive on to Swem library after the meeting. I stayed in Swem for just under four hours and left at 10:25 to drive back to my dorm room. I stayed in my dorm for the rest of the day. I visited six buildings: my dorm, Wawa, two libraries, Tucker, and the Sadler Center. Thursday looked like a typical day.

            Reflecting on the journal, I am most surprised to notice how much time I spent in my dorm room between ending Wednesday night and starting Thursday morning: I exhausted the first half of Thursday just in my room. Realizing this made me feel lethargic. In fairness, Thursday began as an unusual day. I stayed up late on Wednesday and into the next morning working on a newspaper article. I would normally been out of the room before the very late sounding 12:30. Despite the excuses, I did not like seeing how much time I spent in my dorm room before leaving it. I doubt I would have noticed this issue if the assignment had not prompting me to pay attention to the details.

            Making my version of the map also proved an interesting activity because the directions concerning the map’s construction were quite open ended. We just had to include “any movements at or above the level of building-to-building” and movement times. This left the task of organizing the material into an interpretable document on the student. In contrast, filling out the pre-drawn William and Mary campus map was simple because there far fewer ways to represent this concept of place on a map with the locations already represented. I chose to draw only the places I traveled to on my map. Other locations around campus were left off for ease of reading. I also chose to depict each trip in a different color the routes would look clear and easily interpreted. Roads surrounding the buildings I traveled to drawn in to give paths for transportation and create some sense of perspective. My map shows how long it took for me to travel around campus and implies how long I spent in each location. My map does not, however, tell the viewer exactly where I was or what I did there. Such information could have been added but I could not think of a way to include it without cluttering the map.

            I am sure everyone in the class will produce very different looking maps to present to class because our work will reflect the diversity of perspectives found within the room. We are, after all, a group of acquaintances from different backgrounds drawn together to this class by a common set of interests in the course description. Going through the actual motions of journaling this project on Thursday was an interesting experience. I did not expect it to find it thought provoking and was surprised by these feelings as I recorded my movements. I had not expected to feel self-conscious about this project. I felt taken aback to actually care about what my movements said about my personality and my life. I am a pretty confident person, but suddenly felt like this assignment described me in ways that were outside of my control. This exercise tells us a lot about our day and our activities, but from a cursory view. I am glad I did it and look forward to seeing other people’s maps. The differences should be both illuminating and obscuring.


The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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