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Mapping Narratives

Mapping Narratives

This training event has taken place.
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Day one

Wednesday 11 May
British Library Seminar Room

Although mapping has traditionally been regarded as a branch of geography, this course will consider mapping as a research method applicable to disciplines within the humanities, such as art, history, architecture, literature, performance and philosophy. We will be thinking of mapping as a process of representation and conceptualisation, of modelling ideas and material from one subject area to another, so as to aid communication and interdisciplinary research. To that end, we acknowledge the various influences from phenomenology, theories of embodiment, and the ‘spatial turn’ in critical theory (see bibliography).

The course will begin by analysing the act of mapping, where selected elements are removed from their original setting and transposed to a new and different context. These elements could, for example, consist of literary descriptions of physical spaces that are mapped and visually represented. What occurs within these transpositions? What insights are provided by the creation of new conditions? Whether we understand this re-contextualisation in terms of ‘loci’ (Cicero) or ‘planes of consistency’ (Deleuze and Guattari), the re-mapped elements communicate not only a fresh understanding of themselves and their contexts, but also the disciplinary boundaries in which they operate. Thinking, and above all making, at the edge of disciplines, at where they potentially intersect, allows for critical reflection upon how disciplines are structured and organised. In so doing, the course will examine how the mapping of spaces generates new perceptions, images and narrative constructs that influence both the discourses in which we communicate and the lives we inhabit. 

10:00 Mapping Narratives: Cities and Literature – the Reciprocities
Introduction by Gordana Fontana-Giusti, University of Kent
Paul March-Russell, University of Kent
James Perkins - British Library, British Library

11:00 Mapping Narratives: London’s Victorian Cemeteries
Presentation 1:
Dr. Gian Luca Amadei (Kent PhD Graduate) on London and its Victorian Cemeteries
Chair: Gordana Fontana-Giusti
Respondent:  Tom Harper, Lead Curator Antiquarian Maps, British Library
Documents on show: London maps from the Maps Collection of the British Library

13:00 Lunch (sandwiches served)

14:00 Mapping Narratives: Mervyn Peake and Spacing of Literature ~
Presentation 2:
Imogen Lesser (final-year PhD student), University of Kent
Chair: Paul March-Russell;
Respondent:  Helen Melody, Lead Curator, Contemporary Literary and Creative Archives, British Library
Documents on show: Peake’s manuscripts from the British Library

16:00 The End

Day Two - Magial Mapping

13 May 2016, 2-5 p.m.
Sussex Humanities Lab, Silverstone Building, University of Sussex

Session 1 (2 p.m.) Nicholas Royle and Sarah Wood

(a) Magical Mapping: An Introduction (N.R.)

What is a map? In what ways might mapping be magical? And how does this relate to literature? Nicholas Royle will open the session with a short paper about literature, magical thinking, ecology and physiognomy.

(b) Small Experimental Action (S.W.)

You overhear: ‘They might have hid the blessed thing ... Take the Georges, Pew, and don’t stand here squalling.’ But the money is only there. The blessed thing, a bundle tied up in oilcloth and looking like papers, holds the secrets of appearance and disappearance. The hidden map takes you off on an interior voyage. There is an affinity between the magic of writing and unlocatability. You hide in the apple barrel, ‘trembling and listening, in the extreme of fear and curiosity.’ In the apple barrel, at the map table, you are at the same time on the move, leaving behind identity, following the river, the inner river or ‘where the Guarana finds the ocean.’ There are ‘areas of colour melting into one another as they are presented by modern artists’; ‘the shapes please you beyond expression.’ Freud softens into Stevenson. Juan Muñoz vanishes to be replaced by a general moving small figures about on a map. This is my picture of thinking.

Session 2 (2.50 p.m.) Caroline Bassett

Magical Stacks

In computer science stacks of various kinds enable the sorting and mapping of elements. Notably the protocol stack of the internet organizes the vertical architecture of the networks within which we increasingly operate as the computational becomes the everyday. Stacks as computational models thus become social diagrams – and claim a form of authority. This session is intrigued by the rise of stacks as maps, and by the potential to turn the order of the stack, all too often used to confirm a form of instrumentalism, to new uses. What would a magical stack look like? Could it be a useful way of mapping new forms of desire, of opening new possibilities? The session begins with some discussion of stacks as topology, continues with a look at Terranova’s Red Stack Attack, and finishes with some shared magical stack construction.

3.50 – 4.10 p.m.: Tea/coffee break

Session 3 (4.10 - 5 p.m.) Tim Hitchcock

When GIS Meets the Mind on the Street

Over the last thirty years the  development of Geographical Information Systems has facilitated a new form of engagement with maps and mapping.  During the same period, billions of words of texts and millions of images have been digitised and made subject to new forms of analysis (both qualitative and close, and quantitative and distant).  This session will, first of all, look at the ways in which a single place - a street crossing in London - can be differently understood when we combine maps, with texts with images.  This will be followed by a short workshop on mapping language use in eighteenth-century London, using the Locating London’s Past website ( in combination with some 40 million words recorded in court at the Old Bailey.


Bachelard, G. (1994 [1958]) The Poetics of Space. Boston MA: Beacon Books.

Clark, T. (2013) ‘Derangements of Scale’, Telemorphosis: Theory in the Era of Climate Change, Vol. 1, ed. T. Cohen. Open Humanities Press.

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (2013 [1982]) One Thousand Plateaus. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Derrida, J. (2001 [1966]) ‘La parole soufflee’, in Writing and Difference. London: Routledge.

Foucault, M. (1984) ‘Space, Knowledge, and Power’, in The Foucault Reader, ed. P. Rabinow. New York: Random House.

Hunter, V. (2015) Moving Sites: Investigating Site-Specific Dance Performance. London: Routledge.

Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1999) Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books.

Malabou, C. (2004) Counterpath: Travelling with Jacques Derrida. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (2014 [1945]) Phenomenology of Perception. London: Routledge.

Moretti, F. (2007) Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History. London: Verso.

Tufnell, M. and Crickmay, C. (1990) Body Space Image: Notes Towards Improvisation and Performance. London: Virago.