research project websites

American Tropics: Towards A Literary Geography

Most literary history is governed by language or nation state.  Neither approach can do justice to the complexity of the literary history of the Americas, especially to those areas where more than one European power (and therefore language) had influence.  This project approaches literary history in a completely different way, focused on place.  It defines the American Tropics as a broad region (from Charleston to Bahia) where the plantation cultures flourished.  From within that region it chooses six places on which to focus, giving intensive consideration to the writing associated with those places–irrespective of the language or national origin of the writers.

Digital Literary Atlas of Ireland 1922-1949

“The usual assumption, when we speak of writers and place, is that the writer stands in some directly expressive or interpretative relationship to the milieu. He or she becomes a voice of the spirit of the region. The writing is infused with the atmosphere, physical and emotional, or a certain landscape or seascape, and while the writer’s immediate purpose may not have any direct bearing upon the regional or national background, the background is sensed as a distinctive element in the work.’

– Seamus Heaney The Place of Writing (1989)

This Digital Atlas provides literary, historical and cartographic perspectives on Ireland from 1922 to 1949 drawn from the works of fourteen Irish writers. This project is based in the Trinity Long Room Hub at the University of Dublin and provides interactive mapping and timeline features for academics and the public at large interested in the intersection of Irish literary culture, history and geography.

Geography of Literature: textual territories and imaginary maps

The primary goal of the project is to establish and advance scholarly research in the field of the geography of literature in Lithuania. The geography of literature is a relatively new field of studies, combining an interdisciplinary approach by uniting spatial sciences with philological analysis. The main focus of the studies in literary geography is the manifold interaction between real and imaginary spaces found across various literary genres. The geography of literature has a dual application: it provides a comparative analysis of spatial representations within different texts and offers a possibility of finding geographical connections among the texts. Accordingly, the proposed projects has two distinct yet mutually inclusive goals: researching, writing and publishing scholarly monographs on the topic of literary geography and preparing interactive maps outlining the findings of the research. The main objective of the project is to complete two studies: one, on Gogol’s geographical imagination and, another one, on the literary geography ofVilnius. Each monograph will be accompanied by an interactive, web-based and user-friendly map, pointing to the complex relationship between geography and literature. In addition, the project will include a map outlining the global spread of the cultural and literary heritage of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy, followed by two scholarly articles on the same subject.

Landscape, Space, Place

University of Nottingham English Department

This blog showcases the School of English’s research strengths in the field of literary and cultural geography, as well as promoting its links with other Schools such as Geography and Art History. Bringing together the work of staff and postgraduate students with a range of diverse interests, it provides a forum for critical discussion of the ongoing spatial turn in the humanities and the social sciences.

A Literary Atlas of Europe: Towards a Geography of Fiction

Mapping and Analysing the Geography of Fiction with interactive Tools

It all starts with the supposedly simple questions: Where is literature set and why there? Europe offers an abundant wealth of fictionalised landscapes and cities. The nascent research area of literary geography / literary cartography aims at visibly rendering such complex overlays of real and fictional geographies. Against this background that an interactive prototype of a Literary Atlas of Europe is currently under development at the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation, ETH Zurich.


Literary Geographies

Dr Jon Anderson,  Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Cardiff University.

My Literary Geographies work explores the relationships between real and fictional places.

Alongside Dr Sarah Morse (Swansea University) and supported by WISERD, I am interviewing a number of Welsh authors about the role of geographies in their fictional work to create a literary map of Wales.

The project involves interviews with 16 authors using a mobile methodology through the real and imagined places that form the geographies of their published work. These ‘talk walks’ will be recorded in both audio and visual formats and the transcriptions from the interviews will contribute to an academic monograph.

The audio-visual podcasts of the interviews will be produced to compile a GIS-informed interactive literary map of Wales. The researchers have therefore teamed up with WISERD due to the mixed methods, qualitative GIS and multi-media nature of the project.

LitLong Edinburgh

We have created a very large database of place-name mentions in around 550 books that use Edinburgh as a setting. We have then extracted the text surrounding each mention and included that in our database. The data has then been mapped onto the city via the place-name mentions, and can be explored through a mobile app and two online visualisations. You can also search the database directly through the discovery interface here. In all of these interactions, you can walk your own path through the resonant locations of literary Edinburgh.

literature :: new media :: mapping :: coding

 Litmap was created with the goal of enabling humanities scholars to read literature spatially – a mode of reading which I believe to be crucial to understanding contemporary literature and textuality at large today. The Litmap application aims to leverage the strengths of the digital computing platform to present literary narratives in a way that opens up spatial readings of those texts.   The Rings of Saturn: An English Pilgrimage [Die Ringe des Saturn: Eine englische Wallfahrt] W.G. Sebald (trans. Michael Hulse)

Mapping St Petersburg: Experiments in Literary Cartography

Setting is an essential component of literature, particularly narrative, but it has normally been conceptualized as space, and viewed in symbolic and generalizing terms. Even when considering literary models of real cities, the mythopoetic and purely spatial aspects tend to dominate, obscuring questions about the physical environment and its translation into textual form. The developing field of literary geography is beginning to examine the role of real place, as opposed to symbolic space, in literature. Understanding the representation of real geographies in literary works has the potential to explain our response to our physical surroundings and the way the landscape in which we live shapes our culture.

Mapping the Lakes: A Literary GIS

‘Mapping the Lakes’ is a collaborative and explorative research project. Funded by the British Academy, the pilot project tests whether Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology can be used to further the understanding of the literature of place and space.

‘Mapping the Lakes’ maps out two textual accounts of journeys through the landscape of the Lake District: Thomas Gray’s tour of the region in the autumn of 1769; and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘circumcursion’ of the area in August 1802. This website offers GIS representations of these two accounts of place and suggests ways in which the mapping process opens up spatial thinking about these geo-specific texts. The project also offers general reflections on the intersections of digital cartography and electronic textuality, paving the way for future research on the literature of landscape and environment.


Mapping Nordic Literary Culture: A Virtual Exhibit sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers

A Collaborative Project of UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Brigham Young University

An Introduction to the Exhibit

The three projects presented in this exhibit are intended to be demonstrations of some of theoretical and conceptual possibilities that arise when one connects literary history and production to a detailed visual representation of place and time. Each project engages the geographic in a slightly different manner. Taken together, the projects are intended to provoke questions frequently ignored in literary historical studies. By visualizing spatial relationships–and by representing how those relationships change over time–the projects all acknowledge the embeddedness of human cultural expression in time and place.

Literary and Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Center for the Book

The Literary and Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania is a graphic display of the literary history of our Commonwealth. On the map you’ll find writers of novels, plays, short stories, technical manuals, legislation, children’s literature.just about anything you could imagine connected to writing. We have used this geographic method of organizing our authors to show the breadth of places in Pennsylvania that have fostered the writers of the state, not only our greatest cities, but the rural hamlets in the mountains and every place in between.

Poets and Landscape Workers

Poets and Landscape Workers is a project hosted by the Solway Centre for Environment and Cultureat the University of Glasgow. The Solway Centre is located at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies in Dumfries.

Facilitated by Dr David Borthwick, the Poets and Landscape Workers Project involves collaboration between poets, and landscape workers whose activities involve land management and/or conservation work. Poets and landscape workers have been paired, and their collaboration – through trips into the field, and discussion – will be documented on blogs linked to this central site.

The poets are all actively publishing work which engages in a variety of ways with environmental issues, and which may be broadly termed ecopoetry. Each of the landscape workers is drawn from a different habitat – from coastal saltmarsh, river environments, and a woodland nature reserve – and either works or volunteers for an organisation based in Dumfries and Galloway.

Space of Slovenian Literary Culture

The “Space of Slovenian Literary Culture” will be the first in Slovenia to connect literary studies and geography in a systematic interdisciplinary research project. Using the Geographic Information System (GIS), it will study the development of mutual influences between the ethnically Slovenian geographic space and Slovenian literature. The project will cover the period 1780–1940, from the beginnings of belles-lettres in Slovenian to WW II, when Slovenian literary culture attained full institutional and media development, and stylistic, genre, and ideological differentiation. The ethnically Slovenian territory was multilingual and multicultural; it belonged to different state entities with distant capitals, what was reflected in the spatial dynamic of literary culture. The project postulates that the socio-geographical space did not exclusively determine the development of literature and its media, but that it influenced it. On the other hand, literature itself, through its discourse, practices, and institutions, had a reverse influence on the apprehension and structuring of that space, as well as on its connection with the broader region, Europe, and the world.

Spatial Humanities: Texts, GIS and places

This five-year project runs from 2012-16, funded by the European Research Council under a Starting Researcher Grant. The project aims to create a step-change in the way that place, space and geography are explored in the humanities. Building on Lancaster’s technical expertise in Digital Humanities, Corpus Linguistics and Historical Geographical Information Systems (HGIS) and applied expertise in Lake District literature and social history, the project is developing and applying methodologies to allow unstructured texts – including books, newspapers and official reports – to be analysed in a in a manner that stresses space, place and mapping. Corpus Linguistics uses computerised techniques to summarise and analyse large bodies of text known as corpora. GIS technology allows geographical data to be mapped and analysed. By bringing these two fields together we will develop methodologies that allow us to analyse where texts are talking about, what they are saying about these places, and how this changes over time, and between authors, genres and sources.

Stanford Literary Lab

The Stanford Literary Lab — founded in 2010 by Matthew Jockers and Franco Moretti — discusses, designs, and pursues literary research of a digital and quantitative nature. The Lab is open to all students and faculty at Stanford — and, on a more ad hoc basis, to students and faculty from other institutions.

We engage in a variety of projects, ranging from dissertation chapters to individual and group publications, lectures, courses, conference panels, and even short books. Typically, our research takes the form of a group “experiment,” and extends over a period of one or two years. Under “Projects” you will find a list of our current activities, most of which are open to further collaboration; under “People”, a list of those associated with our research. And you can download all our published work under the heading of “Pamphlets”.

Stanford Literary Lab: A Geography of Nineteenth-century English and American Fiction

This project aims at uncovering the fictional geography of our corpus of over 4,000 18th- and 19th-century novels in English. We will begin by creating a geographical database from our novelistic corpus, and will then proceed to sort them out into broad general categories – like physical and social entities – while paying particular attention to issues of scale: in the “social” category, for instance, our basic unit will probably be the “city”, but there will also certainly be classes both “below” [streets, buildings, neighborhoods etc] and “above” it [region, nation, continent].

We will mostly be looking for patterns of variation across time, space [Britain/USA], and genre. Though we may work on individual texts, our main field of research is supra-textual, and we aim at a type of geographical visualization that will reflect this interest – maps of genres, or tectonic shifts at the level of the generation.

The ultimate aim of the project is threefold: first, finding a new type of literary and cultural evidence, that may design a new landscape for our historical and interpretive work; second, producing, as far as possible [and reasonable], a geographical and visual “geometrization” of narrative form; and, third, indulging in morphological and historical speculations on what may have produced such forms.

Project participants: Matt Jockers, Zoya Lozoya, Franco Moretti, Zephyr Frank, Cameron Blevins, Ryan Heuser, Ben Allen, Justin Eichenlaub

Stanford Literary Lab: Towards a Stylistics of the Novelistic Sentence

The starting point for this project lies in the corpus of all sentences from the 250 novels of the Chadwick-Healey database, divided in the two broad classes of Dialogue and Narration. For each of these classes we will investigate a variety of sentence properties, with particular attention to the complexity of syntactic structure, and the possible correlation between such structure, and the themes emerging from topic modeling research.

Our aim is to “photograph” – and understand –the emergence of what is usually recognized as “style” from simpler linguistic units that, though interesting in themselves for a variety of reasons, are not usually considered under such heading. This aspect of our work will put us in touch with existing scholarship on narrative style, and part of our work will consist in “matching” some classic instances of stylistic criticism against the results of our work, to better understand the differences between “qualitative” and “quantitative” stylistics.

Project participants: Franco Moretti, Alicia Triana, Matt Jockers, Sarah Allison, Ryan Heuser, Marissa Gemma, Irena Yamboliev, Amir Tevel, Long Le-Khac, Marie-Catherine de Marneffe

Stanford Literary Lab: Network Theory and Dramatic Structure: a Comparative Exploration

This project will compare the dramatic networks emerging from over 300 plays from ancient Greece and Rome, Renaissance England and France, 18th-century Germany, and 19th-century Norway. We are mostly interested in identifying the general properties of dramatic networks – their breadth, density, patterns of growth – and how they change according to genre [tragedy, comedy, historical play] and historical setting [ancient city state and empire, Renaissance court, modern nation-state].

Project participants: Franco Moretti, Holst Katsma, Elijah Meeks, Ryan Heuser, Rhiannon Lewis, Elisabetta Sibilio, Hans Wietzke, Keara Harman, Matt Jockers

 “Walking Ulysses: Joyce’s Dublin Today”

Boston College Department of English, in collaboration with Instructional Design and eTeaching Services

Walking Ulysses is designed to represent, through an exploration of each of the senses, the experience of living in Dublin on a typical day around the turn of the twentieth century. Our map narrates the journey of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom over the course of a single day, paralleling the progress of James Joyce’s Ulysses, traversing, chronologically, the eighteen chapters of the book. It’s designed to enhance the reader’s vicarious journey through the pages of Ulysses as mediated through the senses of its principal characters.

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