Excited about GIS!

Although I agree with some of the previous posts that Yuan’s article wasn’t as enlightening as I hoped it would be, I am still excited about GIS! I am enthusiastic because of what I think it can do for my research. Since I study the communication between France and the New World I can envisage many ways in which a geographical mapping of a text could be useful to me. While many of the 18th century French authors who wrote about he New World had never travelled there, they read and studied travel accounts of voyages to the New World. Mapping out some of these travel accounts could give me a visual idea of how 18th century authors saw the rest of the world and the way in which they conceptualized their works. GIS could also be useful to determine the frequency with which certain places in the New World are mentioned in the texts I study. What were the New World hot spots in fiction?

I also think that GIS could be extremely useful in teaching to help to draw students into the texts, particularly those they may find inaccessible. For example, if I were to teach Émile Zola’s La Curée whose themes include property speculation, it would be very interesting for students, who may find the idea of property speculation boring, to map the location of the properties Aristide was buying. It would also be interesting to compare the quartiers where Aristides properties were found then and today. Something along these lines could give students a great perspective on how Paris has changed over the years, and in particular how much it transformed during the Haussmann era.

I just can’t wait to put some of these ideas into practice!

  • Anonymous

    April,
    Outstanding ideas in how you can use Geographic Information Systems in your teaching and research.

    I do understand that the article presented its difficulties, but I want you to have a better understanding of what Yuan wanted to say.  So, I’m going to give you the same task that I’ve given to Annette, who seemed to be equally unhappy with Yuan.

    She puts out three “possible approaches to text-map transformation in GIS”:  Spatialization, Geo-reference, and geo-inference.  

    I’d like you to think of a concrete example of each of these, in other words, what might be a way that a spatialization project be of benefit in your research or your teaching?  geo-reference?  geo-inference?  I think that if you take a few minutes and do that exercise, Yuan will be considerably more accessible.  Let me know how I can help!