Map Diary Reflection

I enjoyed this project because I really enjoy maps. I think maps hold a fascination for me because they make it visually possible to show where something is in relationship to something else. I also really love geography and being able to see landforms and land shapes represented right before my eyes. My love of maps aside, however, this assignment was not the easiest to accomplish. First of all, the handmade map was difficult simply because I am not a good artist. I can see a map of Williamsburg in my head, but getting it on paper was not all that easy. When drawing this map, I did not know how much I should include that did not pertain to the places I actually went to last Wednesday. So I kept it pretty minimal so as to keep the focus on my day. Had I shown a lot of roads and landmarks, I think it would have been harder to follow what I did that day and where I went.

This project was also hard simply because last Wednesday was a pretty uneventful and boring day for me. I woke up, went to Sentara to have surgery, and then came back to my dorm to rest for the remainder of the day and go to sleep that night. My mother and I stopped at CVS to get my painkiller prescription filled on the way back from Sentara, but that was the extent of my movement for the day. Because I had to show my mother and I going to and from the hospital, the route looks a little cluttered because I had to put the “going to” and “coming from” route lines so close to one another. I wish I could have drawn the activities I did at these places so that it would be a more visual representation, but my art skills are not that great, so I stuck to just writing what I was doing at each place. I suppose this is more straightforward, but it is definitely not as visually dynamic as pictures would have been. I included a map key so that everything would be as well explained as possible. And that is really all I have to say about the handmade map.

Unfortunately, I really disliked using the printed out copy of the campus map. I was only at one place on campus – my dorm – that entire day, so the extensive and detailed nature of the map kind of seemed silly and unnecessary for my purposes. Also, because everything was already drawn, it was very hard to draw routes and indicate times clearly on the map. I feel like to you can barely register some of the things I wrote on the map. Luckily, because I was showing pretty much the same movements on the campus map as I did on the homemade map, it is easy to look at my handmade map and compare to see what I was trying to show on the campus map. I guess the one good thing about the campus map is how detailed it already is. The campus map shows every building and road on campus, so it is easy to see where I was on campus in relation to everything else. Everything on the campus map is also drawn to scale, so it is just more accurate in general.

Lastly, this means of visual representation is interesting in how it depicts my relationship with Williamsburg. In a fuller map (a map with more streets and buildings depicted), like the campus map, you get a better sense of me moving through a place. In this kind of map, the place – William and Mary/ Williamsburg – takes precedence. I am a little dot moving throughout previously ordained corridors and routes. On my handmade map, however, my route and my agency take precedence. Because I put so little on the map in terms of roads and landmarks, the route I took looks like it is the only route in Williamsburg. Maybe, because of this, I should have been a bit more detailed with the surroundings of my route. This map makes me look like the most important thing instead of my surroundings. This is misleading because my surroundings and roads that already existed determined my route and not the other way around. I suppose a happy medium would be a map that was sort of in between these two extremes. A map that showed just enough surroundings and main roads, but not so many as to be overwhelming, would give the location its due importance without overpowering the person moving through that space and their agency. Place and person work off of each other. I think maps can be very useful in depicting how exactly a place can shape how one travels through it and how a person can shape how a place develops and is used. I think this project was useful in exploring this interplay.


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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