Maureen Maclean Final

In his article, Alan Liu calls for digital humanities’ tools to be targeted and utilized not only for digital humanists but also for a broader audience- in particular those who are usually marginalized. As a person with learning disabilities, I can attest that digital visualization and mapping techniques gave me greater access to experiment and interpret data then written sources would have. The ability to easily manipulate, create, and transform data in a subjective form promotes richer and more creative research questions. Bodenhamer alludes to these advantages in specific concern to GIS and the future of use of the technology for humanities. Humanists realized the potential of GIS for their research; “making data visual spurred intuitive interpretation- recognition of patterns- for instance that remained hidden in statistical analyses” (17). It presents data in a nontraditional way and thus forces new perspectives and patterns once unnoticed to appear. When we first started using GIS I started to see these retrospectively obvious patterns and began to wonder what they could mean.

In Syed Islam’s quote, he argues that they way we understand travel, going from one place to another, simultaneously separates and combines spatial locations. To simplify, Islam is saying that space is defined by both physical (where) and emotional/cultural (what) relationships. This “what” relationship is the most interesting to me. Using the REED data provided, I plotted the different theater troupe performances using arcGIS. As described earlier, I saw a spatial pattern where most of the performances were held and began to ask why certain areas were more concentrated with performances than others. Considering the historical context of the time I figured that the performances were somehow linked to politics.

My first approach to uncovering the political meaning behind the theater troupes’  performances was to research the patrons with the most performances under their name. Perhaps too ambitious, I decided that the top eight patrons with the most performances would be a reasonable number to investigate. Not surprisingly, after hours of creating multiple spreadsheets and researching English livery, I gave up and decided to pick the top three patrons- Queen Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley, and Robert Devereux.

First attempt to research eight patrons

Using the REED online database and reading sections of the Tudor England: An Encyclopedia, I was able to formulate a comprehensive grasp on the politics surrounding England and the top patrons.

Robert Devereux's page on REED website

Robert Devereux’s page on REED website

Now that I did the research, I started to develop my arcGIS presentation. Using the REED data, I created map layers of performances for each patron. After creating these layers I started to create a storybook presentation for my research. Since I didn’t want to show a map for each slide I decided to utilize other tools we used in class. I used the class timeline in my slide about historical context and used a segment of the Agas Map for my slide about theater troupes. I thought it was not only aesthetically pleasing but also provided pertinent information. As I wrote my arguments, I realized that I needed map layers of particular areas and counties to better clarify what I wanted my audience to notice on the map. I worked in the story map and map application mode at the same time so I could visualize how my edits translated on the story map while I made those edits. This was often frustrating to do because I would have to constantly reload the story map so I could access new edits.

Agas map in my story map

Agas map in my story map

After completing my story map, I thought about how much more useful and informational my presentation is compared to traditional educational resources. Being lectured and having to read a book to learn material doesn’t engage or allow creativity in learning. Using interactive learning tools or visualization techniques initiates creative learning and makes the material more memorable. Thanks to this class I will be unstoppable on Jeopardy! if Elizabethan theater is ever a category. Nevertheless, I’m glad that I took this class so I am aware of learning tools at my disposal. I think that Liu is absolutely correct and that digitial humanity technology need to broadcasted as a helpful resource for everyone , and in particular, those most left out of academia.

Link to my story map


Bodenhamer, David J. “The Potential of Spatial Humanities.” The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship. Indiana U P, Bloomington & Indianapolis, IN. 2010. 14-30.

Kinney, Arthur F., and David W. Swain. Tudor England: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland, 2001. Print.

Liu, Alan. “The Meaning of the Digital Humanities.” PMLA 128 (2013): 409-23.