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In an attempt to experiment with mapping Humanities content, I created an interactive map of Charles Dickens’s Letters From Italy using Prezi. With this project I’ve augment the reader’s experience of the original text by tracing Dickens’s travelogue essays on a map—adding visual and literary annotations.

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For aesthetics and historical relevance I hoped to use maps from Dickens’s time. Luckily, I found nineteenth century maps online at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. This site is free and open to the public. They’ve digitized over 45,000 items, focusing on rare 18th and 19th century maps of North and South America, although they also have maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania. These high-resolution maps are suitable for the extreme zoom functions in Prezi.

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Dickens writes with an interest in drawing readers into the allure of Italy. He succeeds in this with his compelling prose and his attention to details, people, spectacle, and decay. I’ve tried to represent this and also make intertextual connections between this nonfiction work and his fiction to come. The project is interactive, allowing readers to follow Dickens’s journey chronologically or to navigate and explore at will (click through the complete tour first to load all of the pop ups completely).

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Questions:

What other texts might you like to see mapped using digital tools?

Does mapping a literary work add to or take away from the original work? Are there trade-offs?

How might Dickens respond to such a permutation of his work?

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