Abstract Machine: Applying GIS in the Humanities

Caitlin Dempsey


Esri Press has released a new book about applying spatial analysis to the humanities.  In Abstract Machine: Humanities GIS, Charles B. Travis, a senior research fellow at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, uses case studies from history, poetry, and published works to explore out GIS analysis is used to explore and understand events in literature, history, and culture.

“This book illustrates how [to] model and apply GIS techniques typically employed in the natural and social sciences to literary, cultural, and historical studies,” Travis, a senior research fellow at Trinity College Dublin, says in the book’s introduction.

Using Esri’s ArcGIS software, Travis models how Ireland’s landscape affected the movement of English and Irish forces during the Irish Rebellion of 1641.  GIS techniques were also used to explore spatial influences in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses and Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh’s work.

Travis, who holds PhD in geography and works at Trinity College’s Trinity Long Room Hub, where he develops methodologies and applications for humanities GIS, states, “I believe that GIS scholarship in the arts and humanities is spawning its own unique language, tools, perspectives, methodologies, and storytelling techniques as it adheres to the dictates and tropes of its cognate disciplines.

Abstract Machine: Humanities GIS is available in print (ISBN: 9781589483682, 154 pages, US$39.99) or as an e-book (ISBN: 9781589483699, US$39.99).


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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