Introduction: Mapping as Process


  • Rebecca Hutcheon


literary mapping, topology, chronotope, space, time, text, Woolf, Wells.


This Special Issue originates from the ‘Mapping Space, Mapping Time, Mapping Text’ conference held online at Lancaster University, and in collaboration with the British Library, as part of the AHRC-funded Chronotopic Cartographies project. The nine articles in this edition of Literary Geographies ask: how might unquantifiable space and place be mapped and how might narrative, with its temporal and mobile nature, best be visualised? This introductory article draws on the work of Chronotopic Cartographies to examine digital literary mapping as process. The project’s primary aim was to address the problems inherent in superimposing the fictional onto pre-existing maps of the real. Our solution was to use topological graphs which allow for mapping truer to literature itself: relative rather than absolute, multiple rather than definitive, and endorsing interpretive subjectivity. Our method puts as much emphasis on the process of the mapping as it does on the map itself. The first part of this article introduces the concept of the activity of mapping itself via an articulation of the core methods from the project, outlining the stages of the progression from text to map: textual mark-up, graph generation and visualisation analysis. This is illustrated in relation to H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. The second part shifts attention to the articles in this special issue which share this leitmotif of mapping and, together, cluster under the contention that there is neither one map, nor one method. Mapping, here, is seen as an iterative process.


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Special Issue Introduction