The Highest Form Of The Geographer's Art

John Fraser Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


Geography is on integrative discipline to which society has assigned responsibility for the study of areas. It is expected to satisfy human curiosity about how much of what is where, and why it is there, in an organized manner that will facilitate comprehension and retention. Geography must be both an art and a science, because understanding the meaning of area cannot be reduced to a formal process. The discipline deals with an enormous range of phenomena and must provide a congenial home for many different kinds of practitioners. Geography has survived repeated misguided attempts to “make it into a Science” by amputating viral parts of the discipline. Systematic geography generates theories to facilitate an understanding of regions, and regional geography is the proving ground where theories are tested empirically. The idea of the region provides the essential unifying theme that integrates the diverse subdisciplines of geography. The highest form of the geographer's art is the production of evocative descriptions that facilitate an understanding and an appreciation of regions. Regions are subjective artistic devices. Regional geography must be informed by a sense of rime, and it cannot ignore the physical environment. It begins with the visible features of the earth's surface, but quickly transcends them and attempts to understand the values that motivate the human behavior that is related to them. Exploration, or fieldwork, is a basic research technique in geography, and the most geographic hypotheses are generated by field observation and by cartographic analysis. Effective communication is a difficult and demanding art that regional geographers must master. The frontiers of regional geography lie in our great cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1982


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