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Authorial London

April 16, 2016

moonlight over river Thames“And place is always and only place,” writes T.S. Eliot. Is that true? Or is place rather the sum of human experience at a location—“the meeting up of histories” as geographer Doreen Massey has suggested? Does place in literature matter? The truth, usually, is simply that we don’t know.  When we read a place name in a text, when we learn that a writer worked at a certain address, we read on—because how much do we know of all these places?

Authorial London screenshotAuthorial London, a literary geography web application launched by Stanford University Libraries’ Center for Interdisciplinary Digital Research (CIDR) in April 2016, aims to augment knowledge of place in literature for researchers, students, and the general public. Users can explore the project corpus through biographical, literary, and geographical perspectives: displaying, mapping, and filtering (to date) 1600 place-inflected passages from 193 works by 47 authors who lived in and wrote of London between the 14th and 20th centuries. A generalized version of the project software, Authorial {X}, will be made publicly available this summer.

As detailed on its SUL project page, this effort extends earlier work by Professor Martin Evans of the English Department, and has been developed collaboratively by Kenneth Ligda, a literary scholar and Associate Director of Instructional Design in the Digital Learning Design Team of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL), and Karl Grossner, a geographer and research developer in the Center for Interdisciplinary Digital Research (CIDR).

More detail on the rich history and context of this project