The Imagining History project

brut detail

Research Methods: Mapping the Brut online

Page Information

Author: Stephen Kelly
Revised: August 8th, 2005
Reviewed: John Thompson

Methodological Issues:
Avoiding the Editorial Imperative
'Mapping' the Middle English Prose Brut
On Mapping: Manuscript Geography and Textual Reception
Implications for Outputs: Mapping the Brut online

The question remains as to how to enact such a methodology.  Here, we describe the ways in which the project's electronic outputs will demonstrate cultural mapping in action. The mapping scheme described below will be implemented in our electronic outputs, to be deployed in December 2005.

In light of Clifford's suggestions, our online maps have to be able to model the cultural dispersal of Brut texts and their cultural interactions and they have to do so in an instantly comprehensible manner. With Bourdieu in mind, our maps must also enable the representation of doubt on the part of the project team.

Requirements of any Online Mapping Scheme

Our electronic map of Brut manuscripts and readers thus has to:

1. Present the traffic of Brut MSS, from production to reception;
2. Locate Brut MSS geographically and biobibliographically;
3. Relate the production and reception of Brut texts to the major centres of cultural, political or economic activity which may have had some bearing upon the MSS or their producers/ readers;
4. Represent multiple trajectories and temporalities (a Brut MS may have multiple owners across time and space - all of whom have to be represented);
5. Be instantly comprehensible;

In the first two years of the project we explored various heuristic strategies for representing the geographical, historical and biobibliographical dispersal of Brut texts. Early in 2005 we struck upon the most intuitive and flexible means of representing the transmission of Brut MSS and traffic of scribes, owners and producers of Brut texts.

Mapping the Middle Prose Brut (without re-inventing the Wheel)

Click to open larger image
For more information on the
history of the Tube Map click here

The scheme for mapping the Middle English Prose Brut is based upon Harry Beck's classic design for the London Tube system. It brilliantly enables the representation of complex relationships in an instantly recognizable way. In conjunction with JavaScript and Macromedia Flash player it will enable us to present the results of our research in a fluid and coherent manner. The next section describes how it will work.

Next: Adapting the Transport for London Map