Monthly Archives: April 2015

Deep, Thick, Playful Mapping: a Spatial/GeoHumanities Reading List for Beginners

Some of the participants in my Spatial Humanities and Digital Mapping workshop at the Digital Humanities Institute – Beirut in March 2015 asked for a reading list to begin to learn more about the field.  Since I am interested in literature, the list has a literary slant.  Here goes…

All online materials last consulted: 9 April 2015.  Last update of the bibliography: 15 April 2015.  Feel free to make suggestions!

Alves, Daniel and Ana Isabel Queiroz. “Exploring Literary Landscapes: From Texts to Spatiotemporal Analysis Through Collaborative Work and GIS,” IJHAC 9.1 (2015): 57-73. Web.

Daniels, Stephen and Dydia DeLyser.  Envisaging Landscapes and Making Worlds: Geography and the Humanities (London: Routledge, 2011). Print.

Bodenhamer, David J., John Corrigan and Trevor M. Harris. Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010). Print.

—. Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2015). Print.

Dear, Michael, Jim Ketchum, Sarah Laria and Douglas Richardson. GeoHumanities: Art, History and Text at the Edge of Place (London/New York: Routledge, 2011).  Print.

Gregory, Ian, Alistair Baron, David Cooper, Andrew Hardie, Patricia Murrieta-Flores et Paul Rayson, “Crossing Boundaries: Using GIS in Literary Studies, History and Beyond,” Keys for Architectural History Research in the Digital Era.  Web.

GeoHumanities Special Interest Group.  Association of Digital Humanities Organizations. Web.

Goodwin, Jonathan and John HolboReading Graphs, Maps and Trees: Responses to Franco Moretti (Anderson, SC: Parlor Press, 2011). Print.

Gregory, Ian N. and Alistair Geddes. Toward Spatial Humanities: Historical GIS and Spatial History (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2014).  Print.

Guldi, Jo. “What is the Spatial Turn?,” Spatial Humanities: A Project for the Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship. Web.

Jessop, Martyn. “The Inhibition of Geographical Information in Digital Humanities Scholarship,” LLC 23.1 (2008): 39-49. Web.

Hillier, Amy and Anne Kelly Knowles. Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data and GIS are Changing Historical Scholarship (Redlands, CA: ESRI, 2008). Print.

Literary Atlas of Europe.  Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation (ETH Zürich). Web.

Mapping the Lakes: A Literary GIS.  Lancaster University.  Web.

Monmonier, MarcHow to Lie With Maps (Chicago: U Chicago P, 1991).  Print.

Moretti, FrancoAtlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 (London/New York: Verso, 1998).  Print.

—.  Graphs, Maps and Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History (London/New York: Verso, 2005).  Print.

Noizet, Hélène, Boris Bove and Laurent CostaParis de parcelles en pixels: analyse géomatique de l’espace parisien médiéval et moderne (Paris: Presses universitaires de Valenciennes, 2013). Print.

Piatti, BarbaraDie Geographie der Literatur: Schauplätze, Handlungsräume, Raumphantasien (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2008).  Print.

Pickles, John. A History of Spaces: Cartographic Reason, Mapping and the Geo-Coded World (London/New York: Routledge, 2004). Print.

Presner, Todd, David Shepard, Yoh KawanoHyperCities: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard UP, 2014). Print.

Ribémont, Bernard. “Une géocritique de la littérature médiévale?,” Littérature et espaces (Limoges: PULIM, 2003), 41-48. Print.

Rossetto, Tania. “Theorizing Maps with Literature,” Progress in Human Geography 38.4 (2014): 513-530. Web.

Tally, Robert.  Spatiality (London/New York: Routledge, 2013).  Print.

Travis, Charles BAbstract Machine: Humanities GIS (Redlands, CA: ESRI, 2015). Print.

Von Lünen, Alexander and Charles Travis.  History and GIS: Epistemologies, Considerations and Reflections (Dordrecht/New York: Springer, 2013). Print.

Wells, Amy. “La cartographie comme outil d’analyse littéraire: des cartes métaphoriques aux cartes GIS,” Géographie poétique et cartographie littéraire (Limoges: PULIM, 2012) 169-185.  Web.

Westphal, Bertrand.  La Géocritique: réel, fiction, espace (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 2007). Print.

—. Le Monde plausible: espace, lieu, carte (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 2011). Print.

Wilkens, Matthew. “The Geographic Imagination of Civil War-Era American Fiction,” American Literary History 25.4 (2013): 803-840. Web.

Wrisley, David Joseph. “Spatial Humanities: An Agenda for Pre-Modern Research,” Porphyra 22 (Fall 2014). 96-107.  Web.  Full issue available here.

Quantifying the Romance Epic (chanson de geste)

I just had an abstract accepted to present at the MLA 2016 (Austin, TX) for Société Rencesvals American Canadian Branch division panel “Digital Humanities and the Romance Epic: A New Approach?” organized by Paula Leverage. As my first post here suggested, I am interested in ways of visualizing as many texts as we can from the corpus of medieval French.  My MLA proposal is entitled “Visualizing Romance Epic Space-Time” and aims to examine variance of place name usage over time in romance epics (a.k.a. chansons de geste).

The chansons de geste seemed like a perfect use case for digital analysis.  The corpus is vast and the genre is highly repetitive (just think of Rychner’s 1955 landmark La chanson de geste: essai sur l’art épique des jongleurs).

I come back to the question of scale: just how many romance epic texts are there?  Rychner only looked at nine. The Wikipedia article on the chanson de geste claims there are “over a hundred” (accessed 8 April 2015).  Working with the entry on the “chanson de geste” at ARLIMA, and supplementing it with searches at IA, HathiTrust (my institution became a partner!), La Vie en Proses, along with ProQuest for more obscure titles, I have built a working handlist.  It seems that we can say with certainty that there are at least 185 unique texts.  There are, of course, so many versions for some texts: different meter, verse, prose, differing lengths, etc.  Using my rule of thumb of 60-70 place names per text on average, this means there are potentially 11000-13000 spatial data points for this genre.  The corpus will surely become clearer with more research.

I have some existing data from the VMP project from epic-inflected texts, so I decided to try a map.  The example below contains some 1800 place names (96% geocoded) from 22 different texts from across the 12-15th centuries.  (You can hover over the glyphs and see the place, the text and the supposed composition range).

I have used a choropleth map, with a multicolor ramp, to show progression over time.  Dark and light green glyphs indicate that the place name occurs in a text dated closer to 1200, whereas salmon and red glyphs point to a place name showing up around 1450.  A note of caution: some glyphs may actually be overlapping with others, masking persistence of the place name.

What I find most interesting about this initial exploration of the data is the flip-flop of the axes of the chanson de geste.  The earlier period tends to align on a NE-SW axis of France-Iberia, whereas the later period follows a NW-SE axis.  The most obvious guess for why we find such a large scale flip is perhaps a shift from the Charlemagne material and toward localizing epic form for other political (Mediterranean), military encounters.  Just a guess.