Novel City Maps A poetic view on the city
How do impressions of a city perceived in fiction change depending on author, time and narration?
The project Novel City Maps visualizes spatiality and its relation to the story in Berlin novels in the form of poetic maps that originate from the complex tissue of the underlying stories.
Novel City Maps is part of a dissertation project that explores new ways of visually representing the construction of fictional and geographical space in literature. The project investigates how such kinds of visualizations might be beneficial to literary scholars. Preliminary surveys have shown their benefit for identifying patterns of relations between locations and spaces that are mentioned in close proximity in the text. As each fictional text produces a distinct map that can be compared with other Novel City Maps of a particular city, the importance of places and locations and their connection becomes visible and the influence determined by story, author, time and other factors becomes accessible to visual analysis. Apart from serving as a professional tool for experts, these visual depictions might also help interested readers get a better sense of the spatiality in novels. Readers are put into the position to explore and read a novel “by the locations”. This might help people already familiar with the novel to gain a new perspective and possibly a deeper engagement with a book on the one hand, while on the other hand it might also convince people unfamiliar with a book to read it because they have a connection to certain locations or are interested in the particular spatial pattern a novel produces.
This work is part of ongoing research on the visualization of spatial relationships in fictional works. Our aim is to arrive at aesthetic representations of fictional narratives set in actual places such as cities. Novel City Maps offers two map views, one inspired by transit maps and the other by conventional street maps. The former uses the aesthetic of abstract transit maps to reveal the co-occurrence structures between important places in a story. The street map view is designed as a spatial fingerprint of a novel by highlighting the places occurring often in the story.