Join us in our second training event. This two day intensive seminar will introduce you to the basics of GIS software from a humanities perspective. We will provide hands-on training in ArcGIS, the most widely used commercial GIS software package and we will discuss other software as well. Come and find out how to use GIS for your research!
11-12th of April, 2013. Lancaster University
Course Tutors: Ian Gregory and Patricia Murrieta-Flores. Registration is now open.
Come to the first in our series of training events This one day seminar will guide you through the basics of GIS and what it has to offer to diverse disciplines in the humanities. The event is sponsored by the European Research Council.
Friday 30th November 2012 10.00am-4.30pm
Conference Centre, Meeting Room 3,
Course Tutors: Ian Gregory and Patricia Murrieta-Flores
More information here
David Cooper recently travelled to Istanbul to speak at the eleventh conference of the European Society for the Study of English (ESSE). Held on the beautiful campus of Bogazici University, overlooking the Bosporus, the conference featured keynote contributions from Homi Bhabha (on 'Anxiety, Security and the Poetics of the Humanities') and Lancaster University's own Jonathan Culpeper (on 'Myths about English'). David was invited to speak as part of two sessions on 'Mapping Writing - Literary Geography' organised by Robert Clark (University of East Anglia, UK), Kirsti Bohata (Swansea University, UK) and Ana-Karina Schneider (University Sibiu, Romania). As well as presenting extant and current work on both the 'Mapping the Lakes' and 'Spatial Humanities' projects, David talked, more generally, about the critical possibilities and problems of interdisciplinary digital humanities research in the field of literary geographies. The slides from David's presentation can be found at the Learning Resources section; but, for more information about the talk, please contact David via e-mail (email@example.com) or Twitter (@DrDavidCooper).
Literary Fieldwork: 'a kind of pursuit'
In, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot - the third and final instalment in a 'a loose trilogy' of books about landscape and landscape experience - Robert Macfarlane reminds his reader that: 'Humans are animals and like all animals we leave tracks as we walk: signs of passage made in snow, sand, mud, grass, dew, earth or moss.' A phenomenological preoccupation with the human body as a moving, feeling, polysensorial organ is threaded through The Old Ways as Macfarlane endeavours to restore an understanding of humans as 'track-makers'.
When following the footsteps of a writer from the past, however, the literary geographer serves a dual role as s/he is simultaneously track-maker and track-tracer. That's to say, s/he both physically imprints on the land with each step and imaginatively chases the spectral presence of the earlier landscape writer. It is a tug between absence and presence which frequently compels Iain Sinclair to describe his pursuit of John Clare - in Edge of the Orison - in varying terms of liquid nebulousness: dreaming; drowning; reforgetting. Such thoughts swirled around as we retraced a route which was a staple of Dorothy Wordsworth's practice of everyday life: from Dove Cottage along the eastern margin of the lake at Grasmere, Under Loughrigg to Clappersgate, Ambleside to Rydal, and back along the old way of the Coffin Path to Town End. Equipped with both annotated OS maps and a GPS tracking-device, our aim was to recreate one of Dorothy's more familiar routes through the Cumbrian landscape in order to develop a material sense of the quotidian geographies she famously documents in her Journals.
Ultimately, though, authentic recreation is - to apply one of Sinclair's favoured verbs - nothing more than a dream. If one of our principal aims was to develop a greater understanding of the spatio-temporal dimensions of Dorothy's everyday movements, then we failed miserably: we lingered for too long at the south end of the lake at Grasmere, chatting idly whilst admiring the craggy outline of Helm Crag; we undertook a minor detour in order to access an elevated view from Loughrigg and down the northern reaches of Windermere. In short, we digressed. Our own landscape desires subsumed the predetermined imperative to mimic Dorothy's pedestrian movements; the theoretical planning of the literary geographer was compromised by the bodily pleasures of being in-the-field.
Alongside this, a phrase that Sinclair uses in Edge of the Orison kept on popping into my head as I led Paty and Eliza through 'Wordsworthshire' for the first time: 'Place expresses itself through the person you choose as guide.' For me, the (digressive) route from Grasmere to Ambleside and back was punctuated by a series of sites rich with personal memory and association; in retracing Dorothy's footsteps, therefore, we were simultaneously retracing my own regular journeys through this landscape during several years spent living in this part of the central Lake District. The retracing of Dorothy Wordsworth's route, then, was filtered through my own self-indulgent nostalgic reimagining of inhabiting this place: a layering of the textual and the personal which opened up thinking about the palimpsestic possibilities of qualitative GIS.
As, at the end of the walk, we ambled down the Coffin Path into the hamlet of Town End which Dorothy describes in such microscopic detail in her Journals, a final quotation came to mind: a quotation from Richard Holmes's Footsteps which, saliently, Macfarlane cites in part when attempting to formulate a 'biogeography' of Edward Thomas's 'sphere of life':
' [ . . . ] it was probably the first time that I caught an inkling of what a process called "biography" really means. I had never thought about it before. "Biography" meant a book about someone's life. Only, for me, it was to become a kind of pursuit, a tracking of the physical trail of someone's path through the past, a following of footsteps. You would never catch them; no, you would never quite catch them. But maybe, if you were lucky, you might write about the pursuit of that fleeting figure in such a way as to bring it alive in the present.'
My name is Eliza Skakel; I am a senior at Mount Holyoke College currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Nature, History and Culture. This summer I have had the opportunity to participate in a research project at the University of Lancaster that combines several of my interests. I first became aware of Dorothy and William Wordsworth while enrolled in a course called "Nature and Gender". My final project for this course discussed the differences present in gendered place-based writing. I was simultaneously enrolled in, and very intrigued by, a course that explored the use of historical GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to depict changes in English farm land.
This summer I have had the opportunity to combine these two interests. I have been creating maps using data extracted from Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere Journals. Dorothy wrote about a relatively insular space, and her Journals provide a record of her daily activities in and around her home in Grasmere and throughout other locations in the Lake District. The mapping of place names extracted from the text provides visual documentation of Dorothy's time in the area, and could be used as an aid while reading the text.
My experience this summer has been very educational and enjoyable. Through the combination of two of my previous interests I was exposed to a new type of project. I was introduced to different uses of GIS and became more confident in my abilities to navigate the program. I also learned much about the Lake District and the Wordsworth's lives in this remarkable area. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to become a part of this project. It was amazing to work with such knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and professional academics and I am very grateful for their willingness to guide me through a new venture.
The Spatial Humanities Proximity Search Tool. We are advancing in the creation of our placename proximity tool. More news soon...
The Spatial Analysis through GIS of the Registrar General Records. We will tell you more about our progress analysing this corpus with spatial analysis.
On Friday, 24 August, David Cooper travelled to London to attend an informal meeting convened by Sheila Hones (University of Tokyo) and James Kneale (University College London): the compilers of the 'literary geographies' blog (http://literarygeographies.wordpress.com/). Held in the Department of Geography at UCL, the meeting brought together a team of international, interdisciplinary researchers with shared interests in the theories and practices of literary geographies. Over the coming months, the group plans to work together on a series of special events and self-reflexive publications which explore what it means to do and to teach literary geographies.