< Back to front page Text size +

The geography of Irish-American lit

Posted by Christopher Shea  July 30, 2008 01:07 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Matthew L. Jockers, a "digital humanities" expert at Stanford and a specialist in Irish-American literature, argues that scholars have been too East-coast-centric in their analysis of Irish-American writing. Yes, they talk too much about Boston.

Here's visual evidence, from a paper of his titled "Beyond Boston: Georeferencing Irish-American Literature." Using Google Earth, Jockers mapped the geographic setting, explicit or implicit, of novels by Irish-American authors from 1800 to 2000. As you can see, Chicago and, perhaps more surprisingly, California, trump the supposedly ur-Irish American city..

GELandScape.png
Click to enlarge

On his website, Jockers recently posted a few more graphs -- albeit less flashy ones. He has found, for example, that, per capita, Irish-American literati West of the Mississippi were more prolific than their Eastern counterparts:

booksPerCapita.png
Click to enlarge

And another graph counters an argument made by Jockers's Ph.D. adviser, Charles Fanning, author of "The Irish Voice in America." Fanning had argued that the output of self-consciously Irish-American novelists dipped from 1900 to 1920 (perhaps because discrimination led them to downplay their ethnic identity). True in the East, Jockers says, but not in the West:

sc_allWestNorm.png
Click to enlarge

And for a sweet animated version of the Google Earth map posted above, go here.

Via Jennifer Howard at the Chronicle of Higher Education, who profiled Jockers (and another digital humanist) this week.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

 
About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
contributors
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

archives

Browse this blog

by category