Cartography Happens: Mapping “True Womanhood”

A Map of the Open Country of Woman’s Heart Exhibiting its Internal Communications, and the Facilities and Dangers to Travellers Therein. Hartford: Lith. of D. W. Kellogg & Co., 1833-1842. Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society.

With the current issue of GLIMPSE, we bring you a highlight of the American Antiquarian Society’s online exhibition, “Beauty, Virtue & Vice: Images of Women in Nineteenth-Century American Prints.” The exhibit’s curator reflects on the work, saying that, “although prints are often works of imagination . . . they still have much to tell us about the time and place in which they were created.”  Georgia Barnhill of the AAS finds one print particularly telling, and explains why in “Cartography.”

In “Open Country of Woman’s Heart,” the American publisher D. W. Kellogg & Company capitalized on the convergence of technology, literary trends, and the spirit of exploration (not to mention a healthy dose of 19th century chauvinism) in the decades leading up to the Civil War. The result is a road map of a woman’s emotional core, where her “Love of Dress” dwarfs her “Good Sense,” and beyond the bounds of her heart lies only “Oblivion.”

Huffington Post readers took the print as an opportunity to envision their own interior (21st-century) landscapes. How about it, GLIMPSE readers? How do your internal maps compare?


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