1.v Spatial Humanities and Digital Mapping

Ancient World Mapping Center, Stoa Consortium, and Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. 2000. Pleiades. https://pleiades.stoa.org.

Pleiades is a community-built gazetteer and graph of ancient places; its platform integrates embedded, interactive maps and scholarship written on the gazetteer itself. The major focus of Pleiades is on the Greek and Roman world, but this has expanded to include Ancient Near Eastern, Byzantine, Celtic, and Early Medieval geography. It operates under an open licence, and allows users to create and share digital historical maps about the ancient world. Users can also track updates and modifications of the map and texts through Pleiades’ interface.

Bachelard, Gaston. 1969. The Poetics of Space. Translated by Maria Jolas. Boston: Beacon Press.

Rather than focusing on actual geographical space, Bachelard adopts a phenomenological approach in studying interior, “poetic” spaces such as those of the imagination, the memory, and the domestic sphere and objects within it. He focuses on the term “topophilia,” which is used to describe spaces that evoke an emotional reaction and that often reappear in people’s imagination and memories throughout their lives. From this stems his argument for prioritizing topoanalysis over psychoanalysis, since in the process of returning to these memories, the spatial aspect is evoked more strongly than a discrete temporal one. Significantly, Bachelard addresses the concept of the “poetic image”—the ability of readers to capture the image described by the author without having direct visual access to that place.

Gregory, Derek. 1994. Geographical Imaginations. Oxford: Blackwell.

Gregory explores how different theoretical aspects of geography relate to a wide range of disciplines. His main objective is to situate geography as a discourse within contemporary thought, rather than accepting its segregation as a separate discipline. Gregory presents numerous examples of the role of geography in theoretical discussions, including feminism, postcolonialism, and postmodernism, and suggests that geography could help redefine these discourses. According to Gregory, social life is deeply situated in different aspects of spatiality, both literal and metaphorical.

Guldi, Jo, and Cora Johnson-Roberson. 2012. Paper Machines. metaLAB @ Harvard.     http://papermachines.org/.

Guldi and Johnson-Roberson demonstrate Paper Machines, a plug-in for the open bibliographic management system Zotero. Paper Machines has a number of embedded analytical digital tools, one of which is a digital map that automatically geoparses the selected texts onto a map interface. Zotero libraries can be shared or made public, allowing people to experiment with these tools on the same corpus. A significant feature of Paper Machines is that it exports geoparsed information into JSON or CSV format free of charge, allowing this data to be reused on other mapping platforms. Paper Machines is also well equipped for dealing with large data sets, which allows researchers to investigate substantial collections.

Jenstad, Janelle, and Kim McLean-Fiander. n.d. “The MoEML Gazetteer of Early Modern London.” The Map of Early Modern London, edited by Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/gazetteer_about.htm.

The MoEML Gazetteer of Early Modern London is a digitized gazetteer that offers a standard for London place names from 1550 to 1650. This gazetteer consists of six components: a variant toponym or place name, the authority name, an @xml:id to accurately manage the data, a link to the Agas map interface, other alternate names and spellings, and a location type. Users can contribute to the gazetteer by suggesting information to add. It is also openly available for researchers to adapt to their own projects. Each place in the gazetteer is linked to an encyclopedia page where a detailed description of the place can be found.

Moretti, Franco. 1998. Atlas of the European Novel, 1800–1900. London: Verso.

Moretti proposes using maps as analytical tools for an in-depth analysis of literature by adopting the concept of mapping as a way of reading. He argues that this approach reveals the rich and multilayered nature of literary works that may otherwise elude the reader, providing evidence for this claim by presenting and analyzing numerous digital maps of well-known works. Moretti is critical, however, of the fact that literary analysis focuses primarily on canonical work. He suggests that the focus ought to be expanded to include the immense body of marginalized literature, and that working with such a large corpus would require collaborative digital research. According to Moretti, these types of digital mapping projects should actively constitute the literary field and form part of its discourse, rather than simply operate as another method for studying it.

OpenStreetMap Foundation. n.d. OpenStreetMap. https://www.openstreetmap.org.

OpenStreetMap is an editable map of the world that consists of a vast amount of location information, ranging from bus routes and bicycle trails to cafés and restaurants. It owes much of its success to its open access values, which circumvent the widespread commercialization of geospatial information. OpenStreetMap is a collaborative project with more than two million users who crowdsource data through a number of resources, such as GPS devices and aerial photography. The OpenStreetMap Foundation—whose mission is to provide an infrastructure for openly reusable digital geospatial information—supports this project.

Stanford Natural Language Processing Group. 2006. Stanford Named Entity Recognizer (NER). https://nlp.stanford.edu/software/CRF-NER.html.

The Stanford Named Entity Recognizer (NER) is a Java Implementation that processes and labels words in a text, including names of a location, organization, or person. This allows for the automatic placename tagging of places with standardized spelling, which lies at the center of automatic digital spatial mapping practices. Made available by the Stanford Natural Language Processing Group, the Stanford NER tagger is open access, open source, and accessible and adaptable under a GNU General Public License. The Stanford NER tagger is often the starting point to redirect extracted data to a geoparser, which matches the placenames with their geographical coordinates. It has been expanded to work with languages other than English, such as Chinese, German, and Spanish, and has been optimized to work with a multitude of programming languages.

Tally, Robert T., Jr. 2013. Spatiality. London and New York: Routledge.

Tally engages in a thorough overview of existing scholarship in spatial theory that has been produced in the aftermath of the spatial turn. He argues for the importance of three main concepts in spatial humanities—literary cartography, literary geography, and geocriticism—that can provide a new and engaging way of looking at literary theory, criticism, and practice of spatiality. According to Tally, geocriticism should be seen as an interdisciplinary methodology whose main aim is to explore diverse cartographies critically and through different approaches, including mapping and spatial humanities, in order to keep pace with the rapidly shifting nature of spatial relations in a postmodern world.

Westphal,  Bertrand.  2011.  Geocriticism:  Real  and  Fictional  Spaces. Translated by Robert T. Tally, Jr. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Westphal introduces geocriticism as an interdisciplinary method in literary studies that encompasses the study of space from a multifocal, polysensoral, and intertextual perspective, with a stratigraphic vision in mind. He bases geocriticism on three main theoretical assumptions: spatiotemporality, transgressivity, and referentiality. Spatiotemporality is the aspect of the work delineating space-time. Transgressivity is described as recognition of the ever-shifting boundaries of real and fictional spaces, and referentiality as the relationship between the representation and the referent being in continuous oscillation or movement. Given the scope that Westphal envisions, and the attempt to include a large corpus of texts as a postmodern critique of grand narratives, the practice of geocriticism would have to be built on collaborative effort with reliance on technology. Westphal advocates geocritical analysis as a continuous exploration without a fixed end point, and as a new way of engaging with real and fictional spaces after the spatial turn.

Wick, Marc (founder), and Christophe Boutreux (developer). GeoNames. Männedorf, Switzerland: Unxos GmbH. http://www.geonames.org.

GeoNames, the largest open gazetteer, is a downloadable database that contains more than 10 million geographical names in a set of different languages, as well as population and elevation information. It is equipped for dealing with ambiguities that arise when working with spatial data, such as allowing users to select from a list of possible options when a place name refers to more than one geographical entity and providing alternative spellings where appropriate. GeoNames is based on a user-friendly wiki platform that allows users to add and edit information. This database operates according to open access standards and exports its database daily to keep it updated.

Wrisley, David J., and the team at the American University of Beirut. 2016. Linguistic Landscapes of Beirut (formerly Mapping Language Contact  in  Beirut).  http://llb.djwrisley.com/.

Linguistic Landscapes of Beirut is an example of a pedagogical implementation of socially created maps into the classroom environment. The focus is on data that reveals local features of language use. The main objective of this project is to capture instances of multilingualism in Arabic, English, and French based on cross-lingual wordplay, vernacular or language-specifi use, and language mixing. The collected information and its metadata are stored on a map through mobile data collection using the Fulcrum application. Students update their data live, with an average of four additions per student per week over an entire semester. This project points to the abundance of local multilingual features expressed within the metropolitan area of Beirut.