Spatial Uncertainty in Fiction

Anne-Kathrin Reuschel
Mapping Literature: Visualisation of Spatial Uncertainty in Fiction

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Abstract:The interdisciplinary project 'A Literary Atlas of Europe' aims to develop an interactive atlas as a research tool for spatial analysis of literature. The central questions of where do stories take place and what interactions exist between literary spaces and the real space are answered by means of cartographical visualisation. This paper provides an overview of an extensive systematic evaluation of the literary space and proposes a practical implementation of literary spatial data into a database. In this process, specific properties of literary spaces are identified: the narrated spaces are fragmentary; they have vague boundaries and are often hard to localize, if at all. Furthermore, they can be transformed and remodelled by the author and can be linked to any time period. Considering these properties of fictional data, it becomes clear that visualisation of inherent uncertainty is necessary. The main challenge of this research is developing appropriate visualisation methods that visually satisfy those above-mentioned inherent rules of individual literary places. Therefore, visualisation methods for several specific properties are suggested and subsequently implemented to allow automatic map generation.

Reuschel, Anne-Kathrin (2011); Hurni, Lorenz: Mapping Literature: Visualisation of Spatial Uncertainty in Fiction. In: The Cartographic Journal, Volume 48, Number 4, November 2011, pp. 293-308. → Download

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