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Jessica Tuckerman Dr. Wolff Visual Rhetoric and Multimodal Communication February 13, 2014 Altas of Us What is a map? Is it just an picture, an image, which shows the roads, lakes, and other landmarks of a given place? Are maps only a geological tool or can they also be art? Maps are also pictures which show the different parts of something. In writing we have many types of maps like plot maps, character maps, and brainstorming maps. They are forms of communication which help readers navigate through a given abstract or concrete area. Maps can show details outside the realm of geography. They can show how ideas related to each other and aid in defining the abstract. They tell a story. Dennis Wood says in his book Everything Sings that “every map has its own tale to tell.” (9) Woods questions the possibility of cartography as an expressive art and creates the idea of poetic cartography in order to stop asking where a place is and to start asking what a place is. Wood also says that maps are “denied by science, resisted by modern art” (11) and reminds us all that the objectivity connected to reading the maps as a narrative is not created by suppressing the subjective experience. If you are not connected with an area does that mean you have less of any experience when observing a map? If the point of a map is to glean information on something with which you are unfamiliar—does it matter what your subjective experience is so long as you understand it?

I asked 6 people to draw a map of themselves. I was asked about many variations of what that meant. Did I mean a map of their physical body, personality, or their average day? Ultimately I responded “If you had to draw a map of yourself, a guide for other people which described you and showed who and what you are, how would you do it?� I believe a map of me shows my personality, my history, my negative and positive character traits, my physical abilities, and my areas of knowledge. Some of the maps are visual and others (from those without artistic skills) are simply ordered text. All of the maps tell a story about a person. Can someone truly create one image which encompasses the idea of the self? The following maps attempt to make a concrete image of an abstract idea. My interpretation of these maps is biased because of my relationships with the cartographers, so I have listed the maps on their own pages so that you might interpret them on their own before I analyze them.

Amanda J. Cook, 26 Amanda’s map is a representation of Atlas, the Greek

life such as “Not Fitting In” and “Anxiety;” and green for

Titan who held the world on his shoulders as punishment for

personal traits like religion and personality traits like “Crazy.”

siding with the Titans. The body which is holding the globe is

The words are all juxtaposed together, showing their

comprised of the surface level descriptions: wife, me, I am

relationship to one another. Although Amanda is confident, she

Amanda Joy Cook, Manda Panda. These words create a

also has low self esteem. In her map she expresses that she is

semantic unit (Hall 149), a thing which expresses meaning.

simultaneously loves, lonely, and does not fit in. Her entire

The shape the gray font creates helps to create a concrete idea

world is outlines by a quote from the Broadway musical

for Amanda’s outward shell, but her Atlas is holding many

Wicked’s “Defying Gravity,” (“Something has changed within

personal things which define her as a person. Amanda has

me/something is not the same/I’m through with living by the

color coded her life into sections: gold, for jobs and varying

rules of someone else’s game./Too late for second guessing/too

positions of responsibility including “Office Executive,”

late to go back to sleep/it’s time to trust my instincts/close my

“Office Bitch,” and “Dropper of the Thingy;” pink, for

eyes/and leap/I think I’ll try defying gravity”) a song about

Amanda’s favorite things like “Crock Pots,” “Girl Scouts,” and

becoming a stronger person and learning to believe in one’s

“Cats;” dark blue, for insecurities and general negativity in her


Gail A. Tuckerman, 50 Gail is a self-proclaimed work-a-holic and her map

indicated starting point on the circle. Her days are spent

exemplifies this. Her map is strictly the events of her day and

performing the same tasks including those few tasks which are

not her personality. There is very little on her map which is not

not work related. Gail’s time outside of her job is spent doing

work related outside of the sarcastic comments about her job

chores, which is just more work.

and the people who work with her. The comments are written in shorthand and only some include her thoughts on the actions of the day. This distances her from fully describing herself as person and defines Gail by her job only. It does not matter where you begin on Gail’s map, you will find yourself back at that action. In fact, there is no

An argument can be made that the times are a type of legend because they help create order on the map. The map is like a clock, and even the direction we are guided to reading the order of events is clockwise adding to the feeling of repetition.

Megan Ann Lamiotte, 28 On Megan’s map, the images create regions of her life.

devotional acts such as prayer and meditation. The symbol at

They are all connected to each other by a large circle showing

the bottom center of the map represents religions of the world.

that all areas of her life are interconnected. The text in the

It includes symbols for Christianity, the dove; Judaism, the Star

center defines what the images represent to Megan. They are

of David; Hinduism, the Aum; Taoism, the Yin Yang;

her soul, being, love, life, peace, inner self, and her reality.

Sikhism, and Catholicism, the cross. The bottom right image

Megan is not a religious person, but she is spiritual. It is not a

shows the seven chakras of the body: root, sacral, solar plexus,

surprise to see many spiritual and religious symbols on

heart, throat, third eye, and crown. The seven chakras of the

Megan’s map since it is a ubiquitous aspect of her life.

body are points in which energy flows through the body for

In the upper right corner of the map is a peacock, fully displaying his feathers. The peacock is a symbol of pride and beauty. The male peacock displays his plumage in order to attract a female. Beneath the peacock is the hindu symbol Aum. Aum represents three worlds: earth, celestial space, and heaven; the gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva; and three sacred scriptures: Rg, Yagar, and Sama. The symbol is used in

varying effects. The root chakra deals with survival issues, the heart chakra deals with love and inner peace, the throat chakra is our ability to communicate, and the crown chakra deals with our inner and outer beauty and our connection to spirituality. Megan’s map shows her spiritual beliefs as well as how interconnected important areas of her life are.

Kiel James Henderson, 28 Kiel’s map’s legend is based upon his virtues and sins. The

craves possessions/ demands people’s attention;” however, under

map includes what he believes are his strongest, most defined

Humility, Kiel states that he “doesn’t want people’s attention.”

character traits: charity, chastity, diligence, envy, gluttony, humility,

Contradiction is a vital part of the human experience. It creates

patience, pride, sloth, temperance, and wrath. Kiel’s map is titled

situational criteria for our flaws and virtues. Kiel does not always

“The 14 Words of Kiel James Henderson,” but there only 12

want everyone’s attention but he does crave it at times. Under Pride,


Kiel says he is proud of what he has accomplished and the he is “easily hurt and manipulated.” Looking at his virtues, Kiel is prideful

The map resembles an outline of a paper. There is a topic of being a gentleman. He is charitable, humble, and patient and the heading, such as Chastity, which is then given supporting ideas like “devote my time to other people/ always help someone move/ gracious tipper.”

moments when he is most hurt and humiliated are times when he is accused of not exemplifying those virtues. The second virtue listed on the map is Chastity, under which

Only 5 of the headings are among the seven cardinal sins. Although Kiel admits to being envious of others’ possessions he

Kiel lists his desire to not have bastard children. Chastity also includes the first reference point where the reader is told the “refer to

labels Envy as the least of his sins. Under Gluttony, Kiel uses the slang “OMNOMNOM” to note his large appetite and also makes note of his excessive use of modern media. Greed, hold the first notable contradiction on the map. Kiel states that he “desires money/

Lust” which is not listed on the map, because it is not a sin which Kiel has.

Stephanie Peters, 28 Stephanies map is a collage of meaning over a road

from society but also a longing to share one’s individual

map of her neighborhood. Stephanie identifies with the area

knowledge with the world. The face which appears to be

she grew up in and embraces the location as part of her.

screaming is an image from the popular memes called rage

In the top left corner is a collection of images that represent Stephanie’s self-esteem. In one image a young girl is looking into a mirror which simply reads “ugly,” another image

comics and denotes that something is aggravating. This shows Stephanie’s need to let her stress go. Despite these negative aspects, Stephanie also included

shows another young girl crying but holding up a smile mask,

positive images like the tart card “The Fool,” music, and even

the tarot card “The Hermit,” the angry rage comic meme face,

images from her favorite media. Despite its name, “The Fool”

and a happy face. The two images featuring young woman

is not a negative card; it represents change as well as the need

show Stephanie’ s problems with body image and depression.

to question one’s individual motives in a situation.

The tarot card “The Hermit” represents a need to pull away

Rob Cook, 28 Rob’s map is only one in this atlas with a definitive

interest. It stands alone as a representation of knowledge and

legend. His map, which looks like a tourist’s guide to Rob’s

memory. The Observatory contains knowledge on teaching,

mind, features buildings as the “concepts” of the “library,”

theology, philosophy, and reason. The Socratic Lounge is

“processing,” “observatory,” and “character dormitory” and

outside the Observatory. The areas of knowledge and skill

includes labels in Latin. The geology of Rob’s map is

reside on the most Logicus side of the map. They are logical

divided into Foris, which means outdoors or outside, and

and rational skills.

Nox, which means night and can be navigated by the In the most Arcanus section of the map is compass in the lower right. Rather than the tradition north, Processing. These are all hidden skills like storytelling, south, east, and west, Rob’s compass is labeled Arcanus, engineering, visual arts, syntax, and music. These are which means hidden, Publicus, which means public, Sensus, passive skills which take effect when creating projects like which means sentimental, and Logicus, which mean rational. fiction novels, stage props, and songs. Processing is also in In Foris, are the Library, the Observatory, his Real

the Nox region of the map. I think this means that these are

Estate knowledge, and a small building for Storytelling and

activities which take place at night after the working day is

Audiology. The Library contains no applications or points of


Erin Mackey, 27 Erin’s map contains concrete descriptions of herself. These are all things which could shown to you if you asked. The map starts with Adalynne, Erin’s soon to be 6 year old daughter. Motherhood is an important part of Erin’s life. The next image that the reader is led to on Erin’s treasure map, is the beach, which is labeled as Erin’s favorite place. Eventually we are led to Erin’s bad cooking skills and then followed by her skills at baking brownies. The map ends with a picture of Erin, because that is the image which best represents her.

Adalynne Mackey, 6 Adalynne’s map resemble a brainstorming map and she is the central concept. Her map includes her favorite things, in varieties of colors, like tacos, dancing, her iPad, and candy. Her map also includes the important things in her life, like her mother. The map also has concrete items like the fact she is in kindergarten and how old she is (although she is not 6 years old just yet). The most important concept on Adalynne’s map is NO NAP’S (apparently it’s a possessive nap). Not only does she not want to take them anymore, she doesn’t have to.

Jessica Tuckerman, 26 This is my map. I attempted to create a legend with the

There are two sports related sections of my map:

fonts and the colors. The only font and color combination

Archery and Kinetics. They are also accompanied by negative

which repeats itself represents negative aspects of my life. My

regions. I very frequently have trouble sleeping, but the regions

anxiety is caused by a number of things which are constantly

which are surrounding it, Archery, Literature, and Kinetics,

present in my mind; this is why the things which cause me to

help me to overcome that. This is the same with all of the

be stressful are entwined with Anxiety, and also why the black

negative sections of my map, and also why they are the

Impact font reoccurs through my piece.

smallest regions.

Literature and Writing are huge parts of my map and

My map contains both concrete and abstract portions of

my life. The Literature section is comprised of my favorite

myself. You can see me dance, go shooting at the range, or

books and book series. The size of the text is not only how

hear me speak or watch me write any of those languages

much I enjoyed them but how often I re-read them. The

(although I will do so poorly, I never said I was fluent in those

Writing section is not only made up of titles which I have

languages) but you cannot see me dream, you cannot see my

written but also spaces in which I write. Some of the titles are

low self-esteem, and you cannot really see me be a daughter,

from essays and scholarly piece, others are from creative

sister, or friend.


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The Atlas of Us  

A collection of maps defining a person's idea of self.

The Atlas of Us  

A collection of maps defining a person's idea of self.


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