Notes toward an ongoing project: poetry, space, and mapping

I’ve blogged previously about my map obsession, and about wanting to do something with poetry and spatial or geographic visualization. And since one of my plans for this summer is attending THATCamp 2009 (yay!), I’ve been thinking a lot about what kinds of projects these interests might lead to. What follows is some thinking-out-loud.

As I said in the previous post, I love applications that let you georeference various types of information, but I keep finding myself wishing for something that would indicate vaguer (or even imaginary) locations, such as one tends to find in poetry and fiction. And I’d like to be able to indicate motion from one place to another within a text—the westward movement in the last paragraph of Joyce’s “The Dead,” for instance, from the Dublin hotel where Gabriel watches the snow to the churchyard in Oughterard.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the connections between space and memory in Thomas Hardy’s poems, about the way he repeatedly uses a single location to juxtapose a scene in the present with memory of what happened there in the past. (I’m thinking of any number of Hardy poems, but especially “The Walk,” “At Castle Boterel,” “A House with a History,” “Paths of Former Time,” “The Self-Unseeing,” and “Sacred to the Memory.”) I don’t know how you’d visualize that, actually. I think you’d have to show movement in time as well as space. A lyric space-time continuum?

I also think it would be a nifty project to map the history of various poetic forms in both space and time: to show the emergence of the sonnet in Italy and its spread to England during the Renaissance, to explore the complicated multilingual history of the ghazal in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu. Among many others. Kind of like the Atlas of Early Printing.

And, as much for my own reference as anything else, here are a few of the links I’ve been bookmarking:

5 Responses to “Notes toward an ongoing project: poetry, space, and mapping”

  1. Bess Sadler says:

    Hey, Amanda. Have you talked to Adam Soroka lately? He’s working on some neat applications that might be right up your alley.

  2. Amanda says:

    I haven’t, but I’ll have to send him an email — thanks!

  3. Dave Lull says:

    The full text of “Literary Geospaces” is still available at this URL:

  4. Hey, Amanda, are you going to be at DH in Maryland this year? The Scholars’ Lab crew will be doing a panel session on precisely this topic. Several of us will also be at THATcamp afterwards…

  5. Amanda says:

    DH, sadly no. But I’ll be following people’s tweets with great interest — will the session also be blogged? Can I hit you up for a summary of the highlights while we’re at THATCamp? I’ll be curious to hear how the Scholarly Communication Institute goes, too. Wow, that’s going to be a crazy busy week for the UVa DH/THATCamp/SCI crowd!