Mapping Absence in Shakespeare

This project utilizes digital mapping software (ArcGIS) in order to encourage users to think about Shakespeare’s work in new ways by exploring an evocative approach to literary analysis. The tool maps elements that play crucial roles in Shakespeare’s plots but do not appear on stage. This project links together the categories of “the absent” and “the global” to challenge assumptions about an English playwright, the availability of evidence in a literary text, and the limits of data visualization tools.

The project creators include John Garrison (Department of English), Ahon Gooptu, and Katherine Walden (Digital Liberal Arts Specialist). They have been building a data set of “absent” figures, places, and objects in Shakespeare’s plays; pinpointing these elements to their geographic locations; formatting relevant text and media related to the absent element; creating the website to contextualize the map; and developing multimedia components (e.g., tutorials, animations, slide shows) to bring the implications of the analysis to life both within and outside the map display.