The aim of our project is to situate the themes of our novel in a physical and historical context. By way of this, our thematic map allows for a visualization of the physical spaces that influenced the writers and their work. The abstract nature of the ideas presented are also made more clear with a link to the real world, with that, our map aims to imbue a readable symbolism in each place we made connections with. There is also the necessity to pay attention to the environment of the author, for there is no doubt that Emily Bronte was influenced by the North York Moors and Dickens was influenced by the grand chaos of London.
The map is able to effectively demonstrate the connections by linking sections of the text to the physical spaces they mention. In turn, the accompanying blog posts elucidate the text and author’s connection to the space, allowing for a nuanced treatment of how the text’s setting and the author’s environment holds a significant influence over the way we mine for meaning. There is also the added fact that bringing these locations to the forefront allows for an aspect of the text that is frequently relegated to the background. The map, and its charted line, allows for a sense of the immensity of connections made by the authors we have read in class, for to see the route that each of these authors track through and discuss, reminds us that these texts had a global impact.
The most effective way to use the project is to follow the route outlined on the blog, so as to best understand the immensity of these texts. If you want to find some accompanying pictures, just click on the pin that is present in the embedded map at the top of the post. You can also zoom out from the map at the top of the blog post to better situate where you are in the United Kingdom and the world! From there, you can get the full scope of how the setting and the environment influenced the text and the author. As a final activity, you can check out some of the tourist spots that serve as further entertainment to the modern traveler.
For example, if you want to learn more about Oscar Wilde and his artistic process, then follow these steps! Firstly, open the map (located at the bottom of this post), and either search Oscar Wilde’s name or go to the side bar and scroll down to the locations related to Oscar Wilde. Specifically, we will be using the location of Reading Gaol. Such as that, click on the pin, browse through the pictures at your leisure, and then click on the link to the author’s blog post. This is an eminently important location to reflect on because it is not only where Oscar wrote De Profundis (and was inspired to write The Ballad of Reading Gaol) , but because he continually references the jail and its effect on Oscar Wilde. Moreover, De Profundis marks a cynical turn in Wilde’s philosophy, and it is crucial to reflect on the dehumanizing and demoralizing elements of prison. Each of these considerations adds to our understanding of Oscar Wilde and the Victorian prison system.
The challenges in regard to the map were largely technical. The first major one was deciding whether to use StoryMap JS or Google Maps. We eventually chose Google Maps, even though it meant using a less aesthetically beautiful software. Of that, we had to learn the system of Google Maps, and learn how to search for images that were free to reuse. On a larger level, we had to think deeply on the locations we chose, and interrogate ourselves on why or if they are actually important. As for that, some of the locations we initially thought we would choose ended up falling to the wayside, simply because we did not feel they added to our understanding of the text and its author. There was also the task of writing our blog posts, and to most effectively communicate what we thought was most important about the locale. Of that, we decided to focus more on the textual connections to the location, while sometimes using the history of the location as a way to add more to our understanding of the text. But these challenges felt small due to the great cohesiveness of our group! Everyone was always able to work together, and no one felt alienated or isolated from the process. Indeed, this group reflection was typed in real-time with contributions from everyone.
You can access the blog with this link
And you can access the map with this link