Digital Mapping Project (Georgia Tech)


Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Kathryn Crowther – English 1102

 For your third project, you will work as a group and choose a text, or a part of a text, to “map” in a digital format.  We will discuss what this means and the different ways to map or visualize data in a meaningful way using different media.  You may use any of the texts we have read so far this semester, including A Journal of the Plague Year, Oliver Twist, The Waste Land, and Mrs. Dalloway.  Using a medium or technology of your choice, you will create an artifact that visualizes or maps (and thereby makes an argument about) some element of a one of our literary texts. Projects could include creating a hypertext, an annotated text, a Google map, or a text cloud.  You can choose to think of “mapping” in terms of geographical or geospatial mapping, or in terms of data mapping or data visualization.   (See below:  “Choosing a Topic”).  Either way, you should zoom in on an element of the literary text and develop a project that communicates an “argument” in a primarily visual fashion.  It is okay to incorporate other methods of communication (accompanying text, voice-over, digital medium) but the central mode should be visual communication. Think about your project as a “resource” that could be used to teach the text you are mapping – you might consider embedding your map(s) in a larger stand alone resource such as a website.

There are several components to this project:

  1. Your map(s)/data visualization(s)
  2. The format/medium in which you embed your map/d.v
  3. A formal presentation of the project in class with a visual presentation  (Ex. Poster,  PowerPoint or Prezi)
  4. Participation in an end-of-semester “display” of your projects in the library.

In order to complete this assignment, you will follow these steps (in groups):

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Brainstorm on what kind of mapping you would like to do – think about the texts we have read and what information you might be interested in mapping. See Choosing a Topic and Brainstorming for a Medium below for specific ideas. Think about the ways that different types of media and technology could contribute to the idea you are trying to convey.  An important part of the process will be justifying why you choice your medium to express that particular type of information.  Think about how/where you will “put” your project – will it be embedded in a webpage or on a poster or in a video or narrated slide-show?  How will you present it as a resource?
  3. Make a process plan outlining the steps you will need to take to complete your project (I will give you a handout with more details).  You will need to factor in any time needed to set up any technology or learn to use a particular tool.
  4. Develop a presentation to showcase your research.  I will give you a separate assignment sheet for the presentation component.
  5. Complete your project and write a one-page “project statement” explaining the rationale behind your choice of medium and the idea/argument you are making.  Don’t forget to include the citation/source information for any material you use or draw from that was created by someone else.  You may include this information on your actual project (ex. Credits at the end of a video, sources on the bottom of a poster) or on a separate bibliography.
  6. Present your project in class and at the end-of-semester exhibition in the library.

Choosing a Topic and a Medium

Think about the texts we have read and the types of information that they contain.  Then think about the type of mapping you’d like to do.  Mapping essentially means that you are laying out a set of data in a visual format that makes it easy to quickly interpret.  You might think about “mapping” in three different ways:

  1. Mapping in the sense of visually displaying certain data sets extracted from the novels/poems we have read.  For example, mapping information about the plague in London from A Journal of the Plague Year (death statistics, districts that were infected and in what order, the different accounts of people infected) or data sets about London from Oliver Twist (the route Bill Sikes takes as he flees London, the specific places that are visited by different characters in the novel,).  Notice that the information doesn’t have to be numbers or locations; they could be stories or historical backgrounds.
  1. Mapping in the sense of diagramming or giving information to help interpret a text. So, for example, you could annotate and hyperlink a text like Mrs. Dalloway in a similar way to the annotated mapping of the hypertext version of The Waste Land that we read.  Or you could take a chapter of Oliver Twist and map annotations of the working class dialect and slang onto a hyper-linked version of the text.
  1. Mapping in the sense of mapping information on to the texts we have read.  So you could take information you have learned about Victorian England (how the poor laws affected the working class, or how many orphaned children there were and what happened to them, or the workings and layout of Newgate Prison) and map that information on to Oliver Twist.  Or you could take information about the architecture of 1923 London, or the causes and symptoms of PTSD, and map that data on to Mrs. Dalloway.

As you try to choose a medium for your topic, think about what your main idea and/or argument is – what do you want your viewer to learn about the topic?  What is the “take-away message” of the piece? Then think about how different types of media will affect that message or influence the viewer.  Also consider your proficiency in using different types of visual media, or think of something you would like to learn how to use.  It’s probably not practical to start learning how to program a website just for this project, but you could easily learn how to use Google Mapmaker or how to build a poster in Power Point in a few hours.

Here are some ideas for possible projects:

  1. Using Google Mapmaker, you can add text, pictures, video etc. to different points on a map of London in order to map out a particular scene, journey, set of landmarks, historical buildings in one of our texts.
  2. Pick a chapter or a section of one of the texts and annotate it in a website, linking to words related to a particular theme (dialect, locations, representations of the working-class living situations, prostitution, women’s clothing, religion etc.)
  3. Create (and print and mount) a professional poster using PowerPoint.  Use the poster to visualize some of the data from one of our texts. For example, you could graph out some of the statistics from A Journal of the Plague Year in an interesting visual format and connect it directly to certain scenes from the novel.
  4. Design a document that visualizes data using word clouds or other formats (ex. www. or  Find a creative way to present it (poster, Prezi etc.)

This is by no means an exhaustive list – there are many more ideas so don’t just copy mine.  Remember, you will be graded on your creativity of your project as well as your execution of the idea.


  1. The projects should directly and clearly connect to the literary text you are mapping.  If you are mapping data onto the text (ex. information about the Poor Laws) you must clearly align the data with specific parts of the literary text.
  2. Most importantly, there should be an implicit argument in your project – the data that you are mapping should give us new insight into the text, or should provide us with a new way of looking at the text that broadens our interpretation of it.  So, for example, simply creating a word cloud of all the words in Mrs. Dalloway wouldn’t be sufficient – you would need to use the word cloud to show something important about the novel, or to make an argument about it.  You should find a way to articulate what that argument is on the project itself; you will also explain it in more detail in your project statement.

As you work on your project you should pay attention to the following:

  • Your audience:  Who is your audience?  How much can you assume your     audience knows about this topic?  What is the best way to appeal to your viewer?  (ex. Humor, vivid examples, serious tone).  How will they be impacted by your choice of media?
  • Your message/argument:  What do you want the viewer to learn from your project? How can you articulate it clearly so you can be sure that they understand what the “take-away” message is?
  • Your medium:  Is it easy to read/view/interpret?  Is there a logical connection between the medium and the data you are mapping?  Have you taken into consideration the design principles we have discussed in class?

Point Breakdown:

Mapping/Data Visualization Resource:                                   150 points

Progress reports/process work/project statement:              50 points

Presentation and visual aid                                                         100 points

Participation in Library display                                                  50 points