Not long ago, I wrote a story for the Chronicle Review on “literary geospaces,” profiling two digital humanists who are using technologies like Google Earth to see literary history in fresh ways. One of the scholars I wrote about, Matthew Jockers of Stanford, has posted more about his work on his blog, describing the bigger picture–
As long ago as 1997, my research had shown that the Irish experience in America was largely determined by place. It’s true, of course, that the time of immigration to the U.S. was important in coloring the Irish experience: were these pre-famine immigrants, famine refugees, or the 1980’s so-called “commuter Irish.” But I discovered that equally important to chronology was place and the business of where the immigrants settled. For my research, I divided the country up into a number of regions (Midwest, mountain, southwest, pacific. . .) and each one of these regions turned out to have a distinct “brand” of Irish-American writing. Generally speaking, though, the further west we go the more likely we are to find writers describing the Irish-American experience in positive terms.
–and how he built a bibliographic database of IA lit that he turned into a “Google Earth mash-up.” You can catch a QuickTime video of the mash-up here.