I really enjoyed reading about maps in Moretti’s chapter this week, as maps often help visualize the setting in novels, as well as social relationships between characters. I’ve noticed in many modern texts maps are often included in the appendixes, an obvious example being A Song of Ice and Fire series, commonly known as Game of Thrones. In each one is a full map of the various territories, a genealogy for every house, and other helpful visuals to ensure the reader does not get confused between the thousands of characters and relationships.
Moretti makes an interesting argument concerning geometry and geography, and the discussion between relationships and force. I find that when I am reading about settings I don’t often consider the distances between areas, more I think in a cyclical manner, much like his circle map of the Black Forest Village Story. However, sometimes understanding the distance and difference between different places can affect the plot or meaning of the work, and in that case a map would truly help.
The classics do not always offer these helpful visuals and using these free mapping tools would allow students to better connect with and understand the material they’re reading. For instance, students could create timelines of important events in a character’s life and use that to explain the choices their character makes or the development of the character throughout the novel. Students could create maps on Google of the places mentioned in novels and compare climate and setting, and then compare the true descriptions of the places to what’s written in the novel. Tools like Coggle could be used in conjunction with tools like Voyant or TagCrowd, and students could create their own “TermBerries” or maps of specific themes with specific examples surrounding them.
These visual aids would help bring the text alive in front of students and connect the stories to the authors themselves. For example, I created a Google map of every place mentioned in Frankenstein as one layer and then added another layer of every place Mary Shelley had ever lived or visited. I borrowed from her story, History of a Six Week Tour, a book written about her affair with Percy Shelley abroad and found many places overlapped with Frankenstein. It was interesting to see how her life truly colored her work.
However, in creating this map I had a lot of issues. For one, it’s still saving, and has been for 20 minutes. Every time I preview it, half of the Mary Shelley locations do not exist. Maybe this is a lesson in patience, but the research put into the locations versus the output you will see is not great.
I really like the visual aids this week, and can see many uses for them. However, ultimately they may simply take the place of Powerpoint, albeit easier to use and with more bells and whistles, without the reliable saving abilities. (485)