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Beyond "Flat Maps": GIS and the Humanities

For my presentation on GIS for Humanities Computing, I considered some of the geospatial / geographic work I've come across in literary analysis as attached to a pedagogical / indexing effort--reproducing the space of a text, for example, by creating a literary atlas. Other efforts try to add (historical) context or provide a sort of sentimental positioning to the reader as she puts herself in the text's (other) world. These projects strike me as valuable and fun--but they don't seem to push an analytical ball forward.

In their place, I propose a deeper engagement with using Geographical Information Systems, that is, datasets with geographical components. These allow the critic to engage with the geographical information robustly, allowing the arguments to emerge from the maps, not end with them.

I'm very interested in discussing these sorts of topics further, since I feel like I'm being a bit unfair and attacking strawmen. Also, I'd love to know if other people are approaching humanities with ArcGIS and GeoDa in their utility belt.

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