What is GIS?
A GIS is effectively a form of database in which every item of data is linked to a location. This apparently simple structure brings a wide range of advantages including: the ability map and visualise the data, the ability to query and analyse it spatially, and the ability to integrate a wide range of datasets based on where their features are located. In short, GIS allows the researcher to investigate their sources in new ways that stress their geographical aspects while not neglecting the more traditional approaches to the discipline.
What are we doing:
Our project aims to bring the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to the Digital Humanities by developing effective ways of analysing textual information within a GIS environment. It will then conduct two major applied projects that will prove the importance of these approaches by illustrating how they can develop new knowledge in the two major humanities disciplines: literary studies and history.
How are we doing it:
Our project is bringing together a critical mass of researchers to conduct projects that will transform the use of GIS within the humanities. The key issue to address is the methodological and applied use of textual sources within a GIS environment. This is the critical challenge that needs to be addressed if calls for the development of Humanities GIS or Spatial Humanities are to be answered. Historical GIS is limited by the fact that successful studies in the field have concentrated on using quantitative and cartographic sources and social science approaches. Moving the discipline forward within history and spreading its influence into new humanities disciplines requires textual sources to be used. In doing so we are establishing the utility and importance of GIS in the humanities, and also demonstrate the significance of geography in developing understandings in a range of humanities subjects, notably linguistics, literary studies and history.
Our project counts with a highly interdisciplinary team of researchers that are currently developing and enhancing methods of managing textual and other qualitative sources through corpus linguistics and GIS spatial techniques. We are working currently to:
- Develop appropriate techniques for the analysis of textual sources within a GIS environment.
- Analyse qualitative sources in the spatial humanities: the English Lake District.
- Bridge the quantitative and qualitative divide: Health and society in nineteenth and twentieth century England & Wales.
- Develop the skills-base in the spatial humanities.