Speaking the Map: Teaching with the Hereford Map

Research output: Journal ArticleArticlepeer-review


Historians of cartography long have suggested that the Hereford Mappa Mundi was created as a teaching tool, or at least that it had some didactic function in the cathedral that has housed it for over 700 years. My goal here is to support these suggestions by setting the Hereford map in a slightly different context than others have done and so to lay the groundwork for further study. To accomplish this, I incorporate new work in sermon studies that helps in the development of a usage scenario for the map-as-teaching-tool. In addition, I follow Valerie I.J. Flint's (1998) suggestion that the use clergy made of Arma Christi rolls might provide a pedagogical analogue to that which churchmen made of the Hereford map. I go beyond this, though, to situate the map in a material matrix that includes, not only Arma Christi rolls, but other non-cartographical works that we know clergy used to instruct the laity: ecclesiastical wall paintings, Exultet rolls, and informational tabulae . Like the map's designer, those who created the murals and rolls relied upon the complex arrangement and interaction of words and images to re-present their data to viewers ( tabulae of the sort to which I refer were text only). 3 I refer to the visual manifestations of those arrangements and interactions as data clusters .

Original languageAmerican English
JournalGeotema: Organo Ufficiale dell' Associazione Geografi Italiani
StatePublished - 2007


  • English Language and Literature

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