Joanna Taylor (University of Manchester) will be presenting her paper, ‘Fitpoet: Walking with Wearables and Dorothy Wordsworth’, at 5.30pm on Monday, 10 February 2020. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.01, and will be followed by a wine reception.
The message at the heart of Eavan Boland’s poem, ‘That the Science of Cartography is Limited’, is a straightforward one: that maps are good at representing where something is, but not at showing why it matters. Digital maps exaggerate these limitations. Notwithstanding attempts to represent digitally the experience of standing in a location (Google’s Street View being the most obvious example), digital maps – like their analogue precursors – cannot comprehend an embodied sense of place. This paper seeks to demonstrate incorporating embodied data alongside a literary text in a mapping environment might transform both how we read, and how we understand the role of embodiment in historical and contemporary place-making.
To do so, it takes as a case study one particular text: Dorothy Wordsworth’s epistolary account of her pioneering ascent of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, on 7 October 1818. It reads this letter alongside data gathered from a recreation of this walk—precisely 200 years later—by a party of researchers, artists and mountaineers who followed in Wordsworth’s footsteps. In part, this was a recreation of an important moment in British Romantic literature and mountaineering history. But, as this paper claims, the recreation was also an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between active reading and digital technologies, wherein the maps created by walking this route might transform the ways we read and respond to the texts the initial ascent inspired. The paper’s ultimate claim is that bringing these two types of data—those generated by author and by reader—together can foreground a phenomenology of place that induces new readings both text and map.
About the speaker
Joanna Taylor is Presidential Academic Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Manchester. Her research focuses on literary geographies, environmental narratives and digital methodologies (particularly cartography and text analysis). She has published articles in journals across literary studies, geography and digital humanities, including most recently a short piece co-authored with Robert Smail and Ian Gregory on qualitative geographies in historical texts. She can be found on Twitter at@JoTayl0r0.