Linking Text and Maps: Annotation as a Critical Tool for Teaching in the Spatial Humanities



Spatial Humanities, pedagogy, annotation, gazetteers


In this paper, we explore the technical and educational possibilities of text annotation as a means of enabling students in Higher Education to explore the spatial and geographic information, references and knowledge contained within text. We base this on a comparative discussion of two teaching methods, one using analogue annotation using pen and paper to produce visual maps, and one using digital tools and methods for the same purpose. We show that both methods highlight that maps based on text are products of structured information, and that developing practices for correspondingly structured annotation helps students to interrogate this process. We argue that structured spatial annotation in a digital environment provides a highly effective means for students to explore textual spatiality beyond simply pinning its toponyms to a map as points, thus encouraging critique of the kinds of digital map they are familiar with in their daily lives; and that using digital gazetteers for teaching enables powerful new forms of collaborative teaching.

Author Biography

Stuart Dunn, King's College London

Stuart Dunn is Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities at King's. He started out as an archaeologist, with interests in the history of cartography, digital approaches to landscape studies, and spatial humanities.He currently works on projects in spatial narrative theory, critical GIS, Cypriot cultural heritage, and the archaeology of mobility. Stuart gained an interdisciplinary PhD on Aegean Bronze Age dating methods and palaeovolcanology from the University of Durham in 2002, conducting fieldwork in Melos, Crete and Santorini.In 2006 he became a Research Associate at the Arts and Humanities e-Science Support Centre, having previously worked at the AHRC, after which he became a Lecturer in the Department of Digital Humanities. He is also a Visiting Scholar in Stanford University's Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis's Spatial History project.


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