GIS for research and teaching

I found Yuan’s chapter on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) very stimulation and revealing, as I have never really been keen on geographical spaces and mapping. I fully agree with Yuan, though, that written texts are data-rich documents, whose comprehension, use, and overall value, stand only to be enhanced by coupling semantic analysis with the study of geographical environments (space). As for me, I could use GIS in my teaching and in my research.

Research: One main question I have so far has to do with the transformation of Italian opera into a similar, but very different art form in France. My studies so far have revealed the primary importance of traveling troupes (groups of performers), and traveling nobility. It would be interesting to use GIS to map out the location of a certain troop with that that of a certain aristocrat. Perhaps I could find out the answers to several questions. For example, which performers were seen the most, and by which aristocrats? And, what correlation, if any, is there between topography and repeat (successful) performances of a certain opera?

In my teaching, GIS would be very interesting to recreate the physical space (real, or imaginary) that inspired a certain poet, or composer. Using the lyrics (paroles) of the song as a primary text, and the composer’s/poet’s biography/ written correspondence as secondary texts, I would have students find all the necessary gazetteers and geospatial markers to recreate the composer’s/poet’s “space” at the time of writing. The experience of analyzing the piece could be greatly enhanced.

  • Anonymous

    Julian,  GREAT ideas!  I like them.