Day Four – Prompt #4: An Idea for Mapping a Text or a Topic

In the brief introduction of the chapter, it submits to the audience a simple question about maps: “what exactly do they do? What do they doo that cannot be done with words, that is; because, if it can be done with words, then maps are superfluous” (Moretti, 35). Some words, however, fail to elaborate the necessities of a journey in writing. An example of how maps help illustrate the story is how some prints of Treasure Island or Gulliver’s Travels include elaborate yet fictional maps while using common terminology, schematics, and oceanology to create realistic representations in certain cases. In relation to Treasure Island, it would help the audience see where the treasure was buried on the island on a map despite being told of its location to give the audience an in-depth feeling of being part of the story. Furthermore, Gulliver’s Travels has various different locations that the character journeys throughout this quest of returning home, getting lost in different, uncharted lands populated by little people, giants, and other strange creatures. For that reason, if it is an uncharted territory, it only makes rational sense that the character on the journey would wish to document it for others, fictional or non-fictional.

To that end, I see how a circular (or “3D, omnidirectional”) narrative space can be beneficial to a linear direction for the audience to explain the story. To know the surroundings around the story (a village, an island, etc.) helps the audience by giving the option of traveling along with the characters, enabling them to “backtrack” if necessary for reference points. As Moretti explains, “when a system is free to spread its energy in space’, writes Rudolf Arnheim, ‘it sends out its vectors evenly all around, like the rays emanating from a source of light. The resulting… pattern is the prototype of centric composition.’” (Moretti, 39). The audience thus has the freedom to extend their perspective or senses like the “rays” of light across the composition.

With Google MyMaps, a body of students can use these technological advances in mapping to construct a map (or “journey”) of places they’ve been or haven’t been to illustrate a story. For example, a student can put a layer for a general location and then use a marker to pinpoint that specific location like a birthplace; you could even go further than that by marking other locations of where you’ve moved and present a ‘linear’ path from past to present as a project. This would help promote creativity and design to students regardless of the subject (English, History, Biology, etc.). You could also use Timeline JS to illustrate a this ‘linear’ sense further with same effect of story-telling. In either case, a student could essentially present their life/background to a classroom, giving way to an opportunity to build new relationship between students (new and/or old). Below is an example, a journey from birthplace in the past to current location in the present as well as trips made outside the US:


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