Vail Symposium is hosting a program on power, influence of maps to kick off its winter season |

Vail Symposium is hosting a program on power, influence of maps to kick off its winter season

Maps are often used for practical purposes, but they can also be used to exert social and political influence. The Vail Symposium program will explore that.
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What: Charting Destiny: The Power of Maps to Influence Historical Change in America

When: Thursday, Dec. 12. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; program begins at 6 p.m.

Where: Edwards Interfaith Chapel and Community Center, Edwards

Cost: Tickets for this program are $25 in advance, $35 at midnight before the show and at the door.

More information: Visit

Even before the United States of America became a country, it was defined through maps. Whether serving as handmaidens of diplomacy, tools of statecraft, instruments of social reform or even advertisements, maps have been central to America’s development.

The Vail Symposium is hosting the first program of the winter season Thursday at Edwards Interfaith Chapel. Professor Susan Schulten will take a deep dive into the rich and fascinating power of maps.

“Some of the earliest known maps were not of the Earth, but of stars,” said Claire Noble, Vail Symposium’s programming manager. “This indicates to me that from early in our development, humans sought to comprehend the world around them. As the world developed and became more interconnected, maps became more about understanding but evolved into exerting influence. It is this dichotomy in the development of the United States that professor Schulten will explore on Thursday evening.”

In this program, Schulten will lead a discussion of the way maps have both reflected and shaped America from the voyages of discovery to the digital age. Schulten and the audience will examine materials that range from the iconic to the unfamiliar: Maps that influenced exploration and imperial rivalry, national expansion and political conflict, immigration and settlement, and even cultural identity and social reform. The Vail Symposium hopes guests will leave with a heightened appreciation for the ways that maps both illuminate and complicate our understanding of American history.

About the speaker

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Susan Schulten is professor of history at the University of Denver, where she has taught since 1996. She is the author of “A History of America in 100 Maps,” “Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America” and “The Geographical Imagination in America, 1880-1950.” She is also, with Elliott Gorn, co-editor of “Constructing the American Past: A Sourcebook of a People’s History.”

In 2010 she was named a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; in 2013 the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association awarded “Mapping the Nation” the Norris Hundley Prize for the most distinguished work of history published in 2012 written by a scholar living in the American and Canadian west. In 2017 she was awarded a public scholar fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is the author of a series of 19 articles for The New York Times “Disunion” series, which commemorated the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, and shorter series on the relationship of maps and history for The New Republic.

Schulten teaches courses on Civil War and Reconstruction; America at the turn of the century; the history of American ideas and culture; the Gilded Age and Progressive Era; the Great Depression; the Cold War; war and the presidency and the methods and philosophy of history. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

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