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7AAVMAPS Maps, Apps and the GeoWeb: Introduction to the Spatial Humanities

Module convenor: Dr Stuart Dunn
Credits: 20
Teaching pattern: Ten one-hour lectures and ten one-hour seminars
Module description:

How are maps and geography made on the web? Why these have become so important in the last ten to fifteen years? What kind of critical approaches do we need to question the assumptions that underlie digital geographic data? This module will explore these questions. It begins with a brief overview of the history of cartography from the earliest times until the present day, when World Wide Web has come to be its dominant paradigm. We will go on to discuss examples of how geographic information from history, archaeology and Cultural Heritage is organized using digital gazetteers, and question whether these have to be solely about place (or can they include time, periods and events?). We will look at the landscape of 'Volunteered Geographic Information' which underpins the maps on our tablets and smartphones, and consider how geography features in digital literary and textual analysis. This range of knowledge will be applied in two practical case studies, where you will learn how to build your own web map using a dataset from the humanities; and you will learn the basics of using a Geographic Information System (GIS). Finally, we will assess how digital geography influences our own behaviour, what information we share about where we are (and what we do there) with multinational corporations, and how we can use what we have learned to take control of this process of sharing. 

Module aims
  • To learn the basics of using a Geographic Information System (GIS).
  • To assess how digital geography influences our own behaviour.
Learning outcomes
  • Learn how to build a web map using a dataset from the humanities.
  • Learn how to take control of the process of information sharing.
Core reading
  • Bodenhamer, D. J., J. Corrigan and T. M. Harris 2010: ‘Introduction’. In Bodenhamer, D. J., Corrigan, J. and Harris, T. M. (eds), The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship. Indiana University Press.
  • Caquard, S. 2012: Cartography I: Mapping narrative cartography. Progress in Human Geography 37(1): 135-144.
  • Dunn, S. L. Kadish and M. Pasquier 2013: A religious center with a civic circumference:towards the concept of a Deep Map of American religion. International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing 7(1-2): 190-200.
  • Leary, J. 2014: Past mobility: An Introduction. In Leary, J. (ed), Past Mobilities. Archaeological Approaches to Movement and Mobility. Ashgate, Cambridge.
  • Offen, K. 2012: Historical geography II: Digital imaginations. Progress in Human Geography, 37.4: 564-577.
  • Sui, D., Elwood, S., and Goodchild, Michael (eds.) 2013: Crowdsourcing Geographic Knowledge Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) in Theory and Practice. Dordrecht, Springer.
  • Warf, B. and Arias, S. 2009: Introduction: the reinsertion of space into the social sciences and humanities. In Warf, B. and Arias, S. 2009 (eds.): The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. London, Routledge.
  • Wheatley, D. and Gillings, M. 2002: Spatial Technology and Archaeology: The Archaeological Applications of GIS. London, Taylor and Francis.

The module is assessed by completion of :

  • A practical exercise combined with a 2500 word report


  • A 4000 word essay
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The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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