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Crossing Boundaries: Using GIS in Literary Studies, History and BeyondGeographical Information Systems (GIS) have become widely accepted in historical research and there are increasing calls for them to be used more widely in humanities disciplines. The difficulty is, however, that GIS comes from a quantitative, social science paradigm that is frequently not well suited to the kinds of sources that are widely used in the humanities. The challenge for GIS, if it is to become a widely used tool within the humanities, is thus two-fold. First, approaches need to be developed that allow humanities sources to be exploited within a data model that is usable by GIS. Second, and more importantly, researchers need to demonstrate that by adopting GIS they can make significant new and substantive contributions to knowledge across humanities disciplines. This paper explores both of these questions focussing primarily on examples from literary studies, in the form of representations of the English Lake District and history, looking at nineteenth century public health reports.
Mapping ‘Wordsworthshire’: A GIS Study of Literary Tourism in Victorian LakelandThis article answers the call for scholarship that models the implementation of geographic information systems (GIS) technologies in literary-historical research. In doing so, it creates a step change to the integration of digital methodologies in the humanities. Combining methods and perspectives from cultural history, literary studies, and geographic information sciences, the article confirms, challenges, and extends understanding of Victorian literary tourism in the English Lake District. It engages with the accounts of several nineteenth-century tourists, paying specific attention to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s English Notebooks and Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley’s A Coach Drive at the Lakes, which are examined alongside contemporaneous guidebooks and other commercial tourist publications. In the process, the article draws attention to a spatial correlation between the route of the Ambleside turnpike (the Lake District’s principal coach road) and the major literary sites to which Victorian Lakeland visitors were guided. Recognizing this correlation, we contend, helps to deepen our appreciation of how the physical and imaginative geographies of the Lake District region interrelate. Specifically, it helps us appreciate how the Victorian fascination with the Lakeland’s literary associations was modulated not only by interest in the region’s other attractions, but also by material conditions on the ground.