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The Spanish Travelers Project

Letters from Spain in a space/time box: understanding the chronotopes of 19th-century travel and travelogues through 3D literary mapping and Historical GIS

Early tourists were not necessarily good in describing places. Prior to setting off, they would read guidebooks and narratives written by earlier travelers; they would sometimes cut out paragraphs from other books and glue them into a scrapbook leaving spaces in between for their own descriptions and sketches. In nineteenth-century travel literature, each mention of place was thus related, not only to physical space, but also to other texts. Describing places was inseparable from writing about the fast-developing means of mobility used to get there. Men and women traveled, but the gender of the narrator was neatly correlated to the expectations of potential readers, since travelogues were a highly commercial genre. The descriptions of space were also closely related to time, be it the time of history, the linear timeline of progress, or the circularity of agrarian cycle of seasons and celebrations.
Approaching travelogues as if they were hypertexts of pre-digital age, we examine the interplay between texts, mobility, gender and time, on the one hand, and the authorized, yet problematic, perceptions of space in the form of historical maps, on the other.
As we compile and grow a scalable dataset, we invite you to follow our prototype visualizations and test our interactive mapping module.

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