Mapping out the FULL Story

Last semester, Moretti’s section on Maps would definitely have helped me visualize the town of Ruby in Toni Morrison’s Paradise. The town of Ruby was tied together by the literal symbol of the oven and each distinct place (such as the store or convent) was defined by how far they were from it. Moretti states that when a map is created, everything changes. His example of the solar system helps me understand how relationships could work within this system with a village at the center and the rings as representative of the circular narrative (36-7). Though, I think that this type of graph would only work in certain cases, especially ones that are tied together by their primary setting: in this case, the village.

On pg. 43, Moretti presents a scattered graph to depict the hierarchy in Central Places in Southern Germany. Even though it has a legend to separate the regions and the footnote on the isotropic model is there, Moretti doesn’t spend much time going in depth (but perhaps I would understand its relevancy better had I read Our Villages).

I do like the spatial division of labor chart and could see myself applying it to Paradise and the different female roles within the Convent. The one I liked the most is the objects of desire on pg. 55; however, it doesn’t make it clear which objects of desire belong to which of the protagonists. Overall, Moretti’s maps are meant to be starting points to draw readers into developing their own detailed maps to show patterns or trends within narratives.

To practice, I attempted to map out Frankenstein using the Google My Maps. It was a bit difficult at first because I was still figuring out how I wanted to divide up the layers. I ended up creating two layers: the first, pre-creature, and the second, after the creature is created. The locations overlapped a few times because Victor goes back and forth from Ingolstadt to Geneva multiple times upon receiving letters from Elizabeth.

While I didn’t include dates, the red markers are colored to represent the creature’s murders. I also included images to help the audience visually see what is going in in each location. I feel that my lack of detail however makes the map inaccurate since the markers are on cities, and not pinpointed to specific locations. I think Google My Maps is easy-to-use because you can click on a place in Victor’s travels, and include descriptions to help the reader gain insight on what triggers his movement. The timeline doesn’t help me as visually as a map does; however, since time is to some extent linear in Frankenstein, I could definitely see it work in application (448). 





4 thoughts on “Mapping out the FULL Story

  1. Nhu,

    I concur with your comment about Moretti’s usefulness in terms of having readers/students create their own maps to identify “patterns or trends within narratives.” I’d love to see your Frankenstein map to be able to see what you did, but you’ll need to change the sharing settings first to allow others to view it (just click the “share” icon then change the “who has access” settings from “private” to “anyone with the link”). However, your written explanation is very descriptive and from that, I can imagine what your map looks like.

    I haven’t yet tried using Google My Maps to map Frankenstein, but reading your post has definitely inspired me to do so! As you identify, figuring out how to divide up the layers is definitely the biggest challenge of creating a literary map – with a multi-faceted text such as Frankenstein, there are many different ways that could be done. I like your idea of having a separate layer for the pre- and post- creature parts of the novel. However, I think that when I try to map Frankenstein, I might experiment with making a different layer for each narrator/narrative (for example, Walton, Frankenstein, the cottagers, and the monster could each be represented by a different map layer).

    By the way, I want to thank you because your comment about being able to “click on a place in Victor’s travels, and include descriptions to help the reader gain insight on what triggers his movement” has inspired me to think about how I could/would adapt this type of activity for one of my future classes, specifically in terms of creating a collaborative class map of whatever text we were studying. For example, for an introductory literature class I would show students an example of a Google My Map (most likely a simple one that I had already created) and then walk them through the basics of how to add a location and description (I would also have a place on my Canvas or Blackboard course page where I would link an instructional tutorial on how to do this for students to access later if needed). I would then have them collectively brainstorm the specific layers that we should have for our class-created map. Once the class decided on the number of layers, I would go ahead and set up the basic map structure in class (again, this would be for an introductory level course). As homework and in preparation for the next class session, I would have students individually add their own locations and descriptions (depending on the size of the class and the text that we were using, I would probably assign two or three locations/descriptions per student). Lastly, in the following class, we would look at the collaborative map that was created and analyze it, talking about any other locations or descriptions that might be missing and should be added. We could also experiment with looking at the layers individually and also overlay them in different configurations, which would help students be able to further grasp the narrative and plot development as they relate to the geographic movement of the characters in the text. I think that it would be extremely interesting to see what the final map would look like, but more importantly, it would be a very synergistic and collaborative class activity.

  2. Nhu, as I said last night your map is wonderful! I had a lot of trouble with my Google map so I’m glad there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I really appreciate the effort your put into your map, love the color coding. It would also be interesting to map “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” next to Frankenstein to see how the journey’s compare, are there highs and lows, do the murders match up within the journeys, etc.?

  3. It’d be interesting to compare the utility of Google My Maps with that of the Timeline JS tool. When using them for presentations or classroom activities, the Google My Maps would probably be better for getting a quick “big picture” idea of the plot progression and locations. The Timeline JS tool would be more effective when we might prefer to dwell a bit more on particular points in the story and provide more details.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *