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Stockton College: A Collection of Maps from Memory

“No single map contained that information; the best resource was one man’s mental map.” -Peter Turchi


The best place that could think of, where I knew enough people to ask to draw a map of, was The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. The following people ended up creating maps for me: Map A: Erinne, who attended the school briefly from 2006 to 2007, Map B: Kiran, Communications (2006 to 2010) Map C: Heather, Business (2011 to present) Map D: Brian, Visual Arts (2003 to 2009) Map E: Lee, Mathematics (2004 to 2008) Map F: Cindy, Associate Professor of Creative Writing (2008 to present) Map G: Me, Visual Arts (2006 to 2010) Map H: Cheri, Visual Arts (2005 to 2009) Map I: Sean, my father

Map A: Erinne


Map B: Kiran


Map C: Heather


I decided (in true Stockton fashion) to title the maps with letters, because almost everything at Stockton, from the upperclassmen apartments and dorms to the school buildings are lettered. People lived in A dorm or C court, ate in N wing, and attended class in B wing. Initially, my main interests were whether or not participants would include recent construction on the school, as well as how they would interpret the actual layout of the school. Most of them did not include the construction, except for Heather and Cindy, who encounter it on a daily basis. It seems almost obvious that who is drawing the map determined what was included. This is best explained in semiotic terms of subjectivity and objectivity, that each map is subjective to the cartographer’s experience at Stockton. Almost all of the maps include the main lake and roads, which are objective because most people drew them in their maps. The roads are embodied in the landscape, and used frequently without much thought. Lake Fred does not necessarily have any sort of experience attached to it for each person who created a map, but it is way too large to ignore. In contrast to these objects, I N - Wing found that one of the most subjective items on the maps was on-campus student housPAC ing. People who had been students and had lived on campus chose to include the on K campus housing in detail. Some paid speArts G J F D A E West & cial attention to where they lived (Kiran, Quad Sciences Map B, and Erinne, Map A both noted their former residences), and other simply labeled every dorm and apartment on campus. Cindy, the Stockton professor who drew Big Blue Map F, acknowledged that housing existed on campus, labeling the area as “housing.” She did not, however, label specific housing, as there is no reason for her to have any detailed memory of it. People who commuted or lived off-campus (Brian, Map D, and Heather, Map C) focused primarily on the school itself and not the housing buildings at all. My father’s map, Map I, has both housing areas drawn, but not in detail, as his interaction with that area was picking me or my sister up or dropping one of us off. Map D: Brian


Map E: Lee


Map F: Cindy


Map G: Meghan


This also brings up the idea of the school as a whole or as in parts. In This Means This, This Means That, Sean Hall states that viewing something as a whole or a part of a whole “may depend on what we are trying to explain” (60). The directions I gave my friends were extremely vague. Brian’s map, D, focuses solely on the buildings that make up the school itself. He was not “trying to explain” the entire campus; he took “a map of Stockton college” as meaning “a map of the school buildings.” His map is a whole in itself, but in comparison to Cheri’s map, Map H, it is only a part. In Denis Wood’s “The Power of Maps,” the author discusses how map symbols are not necessarily “self-explanatory,” but instead recognized because “[readers who] grew up through their common culture[...] learned the significance of most of the words (and map symbols).” He specifically uses the example of bodies of water, and that even though they have been represented throughout history on maps with almost every color in existence, for some reason, people seem to equate water with the color blue. According to the maps I collected, most people seem to identify lakes as misshapen circles. One of the main features on Stockton’s campus is a body of water, a lake named “Fred.” Every map but one included the main lake, and each represented it (him?) in almost the exact way- as a “squiggly circle.” Some maps (Cheri’s map, Map H, and Erinne’s map, Map A, for example) include lines to represent “waves,” but they still depict the lake as a circle with the words “Lake Fred” written inside of it. Another “lake-related” question I had was whether or not mappers included Lake Pam, Fred’s “sister lake.” This lake is never represented on “official” Stockton College maps, and it is not visible from the main road. To get to Lake Pam, one must be fairly adventurous and willing to walk deep into the woods. I personally did not see Lake Pam until my last semester at the school. I had a vague idea of where it was located, and I had heard stories about it (Lake Pam is somewhat of a legendary place at Stockton), but it had taken me until my final months at the school to actually see Pam. Judging by the maps, it is evident who spent a lot of time in the woods at Stockton.

Lee (Map E), Cindy (Map F), Cheri (Map H), and me (my map is Map G), were the only people who included Lake Pam (less than half of the people who actually drew maps). Lee and Cheri’s inclusion of the lake did not surprise me, but Cindy’s did. I am not sure whether she has only heard of the lake or has actually explored it, but she knew where it was, and so it was represented- a circle with the name “Lake Pam” written in it, just as everyone had drawn Lake Fred. The same people who drew Lake Pam (as well as Erinne, Map A) are also the only people who explicitly show Stockton’s woods on their map. Turchi states “Critical cartographers Denis Wood and J.B. Harley teach us to read maps carefully, alert to the implicit assumptions and omissions,” meaning that “the information selected reveals a great deal about the mapmakers’ assumptions... Every map intends not simply to serve us but to influence us” (88). Most of the mapmakers seem to believe that Stockton’s miles and miles of trees are either implied, that anyone who sees a map of the school would already know that the school is in the middle of a preserved area of the New Jersey Pinelands, or they simply don’t really notice the woods, as they become just part of what surrounds the school. The fact that Lee, Cheri, Cindy, and Erinne chose to either draw out the woods or label them shows that they are more aware of (and possibly have a great enjoyment of) their existence. I labeled the wooded areas on my map because they are important to me. I explored a lot and often went walking by myself. While I cannot say for certain, I think that the other people who drew woods had a similar experience. I recall both Lee and Erinne, telling me that part of what drew them to the school was the natural beauty of the Pine Barrens. I don’t ever remember discussing it with Cheri, but the fact that she was also able to label the particular places where deer congregated the most often gives me the impression that her relationship with nature was part of what prompted her to include these items.


Map H: Cheri


Map I: Sean (my father)


One of the semiotic concepts that Hall discusses in This Means This, This Means That is the idea of sameness and difference, which comes down to the way we choose to perceive things. Differences are classified into two different types- kind, which is “based on the fundamental sort of thing that we are talking about,” and degree, which “occur when there are variations of things that may be very similar underneath” (58). The maps I collected are all just that- maps. The differences between them are differences in degree, because the maps are fundamentally the same (they are maps), the differences lie in what has been included on each map. Aside from what is actually drawn on the map, the semiotic concept of the “style” of the map, or the manner in which it is rendered, “affects the way the message is received”(140), the message, in this case, being “what Stockton looks like,” as well as “who is explaining to me what Stockton looks like.” Cheri’s map sends a very strong message. The map is extremely neat. It is very detailed, but not cluttered. The labeling is clear. Her drawings are detailed and organized. Even though I am well-aware that Cheri is an extremely intelligent art major, I think that those ideas are communicated in the style of her map. Her explanations do not assume anything of the viewer of the map, and she is quick to fill said viewer in on what Stockton looks and feels like, through both careful notes and images.

The style of Map A, Erinne’s map, goes beyond an objective attempt to explain the layout of Stockton College. Erinne left Stockton after attending for one year. Her map arrived in a box on my doorstep, filled with sparkles and candy and accompanied with a letter. I think her map reflects who she is more than any other person who participated. It is colorful; aside from Brian (Map D), who created his map with an imaging program, it is the only map done in full color. The map depicts trees and certain areas of the campus that she held close to her, including the dorm which she and I both lived in freshman year, which has a huge heart drawn over it. Turchi states that “The most peculiar thing I noticed about Erinne’s map was that the school itself was not actually represented on the map, aside from a reference to where a cafeteria was (labeled “food”), and where the radio station was located. I realized that most of Erinne’s memories of Stockon did not focus on the school itself. It wasn’t what made the campus specialto her, so she didn’t need to include it. She took the phrase “map from memory” and created a map “of ” her memories, which was not concerned with accuracy, but instead with creatively representing her best memories.


Works Cited Hall, Sean. This Means This, This Means That. London: Laurence King. 2007. Print. Turchi, Peter. Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer. San Antonio: Trinity University Press. 2004. PDF. Wood, Denis. The Power of Maps. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. 1992. PDF


Stockton College