Week Six – Narrative Map


For this week’s blog post, I decided to do a narrative map using the knightlab site. My topic was related to the Geopolitics chapter in Schermerhorn’s book, specifically on the violent events that led up to the Civil War in the United States and that had a hand in leading to the war’s outbreak. I chose this topic because I can remember first learning about this period of time in American history and being confused about the overlapping events and the timeline that led to Civil War. Using a site like knightlab to build a narrative map gives viewers a simple and interactive way of learning that history, something that may work better for some people than a textbook. I also thought that a map would be a cool element to include since the events take place all around the United States, not just the north or south or rapidly expanding west.

We were asked to do at least five slides for the narrative map, and I did seven if you don’t count the introduction. Because there were a lot of different events that could have been included in this list, keeping it to a manageable number of slides was difficult, as was deciding which events were major enough to warrant a slide. In some cases, I attempted to mention other events within slides on other ones. For example, I mentioned the Wilmot Proviso in the Mexican-American War slide, the Kansas-Nebraska act on the Caning of Sumner slide, and secession on the slide for Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 election victory. I also tried to give enough info, without including too much text that could turn off potential viewers to a map like this.

For the most part, the interface was simple to navigate and made the process of putting the map together, easy. However, I had a problem with the color of the font on the slides. They’re sort of gray and difficult to see on the lighter red slides. I wanted the slides to get progressively redder as they went on in order to illustrate the violence and proximity to war as the timeline edged nearer the Civil War. I never did find a way to change the font color, but I figured it wasn’t too difficult that someone couldn’t read it. That was one of my only complaints. It was quite easy to use otherwise. I liked this assignment and only wish that I could have had the time to polish it more completely with things like the font color or maybe better organized info on my slides.

One thought on “Week Six – Narrative Map

  1. This is an amazing story map with strong details, narrative skills, and geographic/historical imagery! I think your decision process– choosing the geopolitics chapter in Schermerhorn and acknowledging that the history has a rich geographic component– made a story map the right choice. I agree that when we imagine the violence of the Civil War, it is generally limited to the northern/southern theaters of battles in the war. By taking a national approach, you expand both our temporal understanding of the war as well as the broad geography. The West was incredibly important to the coming of war, yet expansion is not always a major focus of the historical narrative. Additionally, I think your explanation of how some events were directly connected to others (like the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Sumner’s caning) makes perfect sense and further reinforces the relationship between these events. Sometimes, it feels that when we read or teach about these events though, they are treated as isolated cases rather than a story of causes and effects. Your map rectifies this problem, and makes a great case for telling history through story maps!

    I’m also glad you enjoyed building the map using the Knightlab interface. I understand what you mean about the font, although I didn’t have trouble reading it. I think there is probably a way to change the font color, but it would require some html/CSS coding knowledge to fix it. The appearance and functionality of the map looks great– I really appreciate the amount of effort you put into building this map.

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