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

Stuart Dunn, Valeria Vitale


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.


Spatial Humanities; pedagogy; annotation; gazetteers

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