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The Way To A Woman's Heart: 19th Century Print Attempted To Map Female Emotion


First Posted: 11/14/11 05:32 PM ET Updated: 11/14/11 05:32 PM ET

If you had to visualize your own emotional landscape, would it look anything like this?


This Map of the Open Country of a Woman's Heart by D. W. Kellogg, created sometime between 1833 and 1842, part of the American Antiquarian Society's current exhibit "Beauty, Virtue & Vice: Images of Women in Nineteenth-Century America" (check out the whole exhibit here -- it's worth it) offers a sense of how women were perceived 150 years ago. With characteristics like "Love of Display," "Love of Dress," "Love of Admiration," "Coquetry," and "Selfishness" occupying most of the real estate -- even the province of Sentiment is traversed by the "River of Lasciviousness" -- and all positive traits, including the "City and District of Love," surrounded by a fairly substantial mountain range, the message is pretty explicitly "beware all who enter here."

The curator's notes state, "Although the image claims to have been drawn by 'A Lady,' it is just as likely that it proceeded from the imagination of a man," and that possibility is not so hard to imagine, given the way this particular map is labeled. Still, it's worth noting that one of the oldest and most famous examples of sentimental cartography, the Carte de Tendre, is attributed to a woman, the French writer Madeleine de Scudery.

And this mapping of human thoughts and feelings isn't dead. Brain Pickings has a great roundup of 5 atlases of the human condition, past and present, and fortunately, these are more forgiving of those whose psyches they claim to represent.

What would be the most prominent features on your internal map? If you're artistically inclined and actually feel like plotting it out, we'd love to see! Just scan and send to women@huffingtonpost.com.

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Filed by Margaret Wheeler Johnson  |  Report Corrections