Mapping in Arts and Humanities Research

King's College London / University College London

June 14 2017 - June 14 2017

Mapping in Arts and Humanities Research

Two workshops and a symposium, co-hosted by King’s College London and University College London, and funded by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP)

 June 14th, 21st, and 27th, 2017

 Theories and practices of mapping have been increasingly prominent and influential in arts and humanities research in the past twenty years. The histories of art, architecture, film, literature, and other cultural forms have been retold from geographical, spatial perspectives, across disciplinary lines, by Giuliana Bruno, Denis Cosgrove, Tom Conley, Thomas Da Costa Kauffmann, Rob Kitchin, Franco Moretti, Ricardo Padron, and Todd Presner, to name just a few. Drawing on rich influences in geography, sociology, architecture and urban planning, these scholars and others have used maps to rethink art, culture, and the humanities, or vice versa. As such, mapping has become one of the key tools by which arts and humanities researchers have collaborated and innovated, and by which they have interacted with the social sciences.

Many arts and humanities PhD students today seek to incorporate maps and mapping in their research, and yet provision of doctoral training specifically in this cross-disciplinary area is rare. This is despite the fact that digital technologies have made mapping increasingly feasible and sophisticated, in technical terms, even for those without specialist cartographic training. Mapping has also become increasingly informative and rewarding methodologically – e.g. what Todd Presner calls “thick mapping” - as a complement to, or, for some, even a replacement for, certain, more traditional aspects of research.

 In June 2017, King’s College London and University College London will co-host two half-day workshops and a one-day symposium with the aim of examining the use of maps in arts and humanities research. The symposium will be open to all; the workshops will be aimed primarily at current PhD students, with a limited number of places for postdoctoral researchers and others.


The Workshops

The first events will be two research methods workshops, one hosted by Dr Mark Shiel at King’s on June 14th and the other hosted by Dr Roland-François Lack at UCL on June 21st. In these, Shiel and Lack will present their own research with maps, but interactively, alongside students and other researchers who will make brief presentations on their work with maps or discuss maps (digital or analogue) they have found useful in their research. The workshops will be practical, interactive and computer-based, relying on demonstrations and small group work, with each event open to a maximum of 40 people. Hence, the workshops will provide an opportunity to present, examine, and discuss a wide variety of maps in detail, benefiting from the sharing of case studies and interpretations.

Eligibility for the workshops: These events will be aimed primarily at current PhD students in any arts and humanities or social science discipline, from across the UK. A proportion of places will be ring-fenced for students from institutions associated with the LAHP (KCL, UCL, School of Advanced Study, London School of Economics, Queen Mary University of London), but all others are also warmly encouraged to attend. To attend the workshops, it is necessary to register in advance. It is also necessary to sign up to attend both workshops (rather than one or the other). No special expertise in mapping techniques or map analysis will be required; PhD students at any stage of their studies may reserve a place, whether they have a lot of experience with maps or very little. To register, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


The Symposium

The third event will be a one-day symposium on theories and methods of “Mapping in Arts and Humanities Research”, to be held at King’s on June 27th.

Providing an opportunity to reflect on the strengths, limitations, and methodological challenges and problems posed by maps and mapping in arts and humanities research, this symposium will feature eight twenty-minute papers by PhD student and postdoctoral speakers and one invited keynote speaker. It will be open to a wider audience than the workshops, i.e. the whole academic community and others working in relevant professional fields.

We have great pleasure in announcing that the keynote speaker will be Professor Shannon Mattern of the New School for Social Research, in New York. Mattern is the author of The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities (2017) and Deep Mapping the Media City (2015), both published by University of Minnesota Press, as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters. ( )


Call for papers for the symposium

 We hereby invite PhD students or postdoctoral scholars in relevant fields to submit proposals for twenty-minute papers on subjects or issues relating to the rationale laid out above. These might be considerations of methodological issues, technical challenges, interdisciplinarity, or case studies of a particular map or maps either as representations or artefacts in their own right or for the light they shed on some other object of research. Proposals should include an abstract of about 500 words, an indicative bibliography of four items, and a short bio which should include a brief indication of the topic of your PhD or other research project. Please also make sure to indicate your institutional affiliation, if you have one.

To submit a proposal, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Proposals must be received no later than Friday, April 14th, 2017.


About the organisers:

Mark Shiel is Reader in Film Studies and Urbanism in the Department of Film Studies at King’s College London. He has published widely on the subject of cinema and cities, most recently his monograph Hollywood Cinema and the Real Los Angeles (Reaktion Books/University of Chicago Press, 2012).

Roland-François Lack is a Senior Lecturer in the French Department at UCL, where he teaches nineteenth-century literature and twentieth-century film. He is the author of numerous works on Lautréamont, Kristeva, Tel Quel, and the nouvelle vague, and he is the author and curator of the celebrated website

The organizers grateful acknowledge the support of the London Arts and Humanities Partnership, which is in turn funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

These events will also form part of the first year’s activities of the new London Urban Media Research Network, a collaboration of KCL, UCL, the LSE, and Birkbeck College aimed at coordinating and increasing research activity on the interaction of cities and media, broadly defined.