Mapping the Eighteenth-Century British Literary Imagination

Name: Eric Daffron

Discipline: Literature

Course(s)/Semesters Taught: Survey of British Literature: Anglo-Saxon Period to Eighteenth Century (LITR 240), Spring 2020

DH Tools to be Used: Recogito or a suitable alternative

Recogito maps place names found in literary texts.

I regularly teach LITR 240: Survey of British Literature: Anglo-Saxon Period to Eighteenth Century, a required course in the Literature major. In the final unit of that course, a unit devoted to eighteenth-century British literature, I impress upon students the great expansion of the British global imagination, as evidenced in literary and visual texts, thanks to contemporary Britons’ increased travel, colonization, slave trade, and market exchange. However, many of the places referenced in this literature are unfamiliar to undergraduate students. The proposed digital humanities project aims to demonstrate visually this concept to students. In my spring 2020 course section, I plan to ask students, as their final project, to use Recogito or some other mapping tool, to plot place names, broadly construed, on a map. Students will divide into teams to complete the project. Each team will make an inventory of all place names in an assigned literary work and map those places. Afterwards, each team will make an oral presentation during which team members will exhibit the map and, based on some standard prompts, explain how the map helps us understand the literary work and the larger theme of eighteenth-century Britain’s global imagination. In addition, each participating student will submit a short paper reflecting on the experience. It is expected that students will not only grasp more effectively the intended concept but will also learn important digital and teamwork skills while developing oral and written presentation skills. To launch this project successfully, I need additional training on Recogito or a similar mapping tool. In particular, I need to learn efficient ways to upload texts, especially ones in a hardcopy textbook, and alternative ways to map place names, especially implied places (e.g., European person rather than Europe) and place names that refer to more than one place (e.g., Paris, France rather than Paris, Texas) or that were known by different names in the eighteenth century (e.g., Constantinople rather than Istanbul).