Maps take us to the land of imagined travel and world consciousness; map making imbues us with the power to raise a mountain or carve an ocean with a single stroke of the pen. In the present digital age, cartography is moving from print to data bits and the new map making tools allow us to re-envision the world: ArcGIS, QGIS, Neatline, Google Earth… Never have we so relied on maps’ explanatory power to make sense of complex information.

As a historian and a teacher, I contrive to bring map-making into the learning of history, especially the ongoing journey of capitalism in China. I design a series of “mapping history” courses that follow a common model: the students start the class with one historical question in mind and create maps as the visual guide to their research findings. Out of this model came wonderful student performances as both researchers and map makers. Through this exhibit, I hope to share my students’ works and enthusiasm with a broader audience.

—Elya Zhang
History Department
University of Rochester

The Yellow and Yangtze River
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