The future of literary GIS: James Boswell in Rome
van der Velden, Johanna J.
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This course aims to find the future of literary GIS; it wants to find out how much of an aid GIS can be to literary studies, and if GIS can become an integrated part of literary research. There have some studies been done before, but none discuss the realistic possibilities and issues of mapping within literary research and only a few studies have been done that include GIS. This research has taken the diary of James Boswell as a case study, focussing on his stay in Rome in 1765. By using a simple methodology that would be easy to implement by literary scholars themselves, the goal is to see if GIS can aid existing research and/or pose new questions. Several maps were made, covering topics such as the different types of Boswell’s visits, visit frequency and his social encounters. Unfortunately, 34 of the 91 places mentioned by Boswell could not be mapped because their coordinates are unknown to us. This proves to give a great distortion in the data and most maps are therefore not usable. However, the maps that do not cover the problematic types of visits do show that GIS can be of aid to existing research and pose new research questions. Concluded is that GIS cannot be an integrated part of literary research because not all texts are suitable. But because GIS can offer visualisation for existing studies and inspire new research questions, it might be feasible to see at the start of a new research if GIS can be incorporated so no information will remain undiscovered.