Mapping American Fiction

What do the towns,nations and continents mentioned in literature from different eras tell us about the cultural outlook and prejudices of society at that time?

Matthew Wilkens discusses an ongoing project where he takes a sample of novels by year and maps out every named place in those books. His article includes three maps for different years from the nineteenth century. For example this one is for 1851:

Locations in 37 volumes from 1851 mapped

Credit: Matthew Wilkens

He stops short of analyzing and comparing results in depth – apparently these datasets are pretty complicated to compile, contain errors and still need further work, but the project looks like something worth keeping an eye on.


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