Morgan Malvisi Final Project

History presents itself in a variety of ways; text, paintings, stories, films and maps are just a few of the ways that history makes its mark on present day society. When studying a certain time in history, it is important to account for the tools that will enhance the quality of a project. Each tool presents an interesting approach to understanding the time period being studied and allows for a deeper delve into the questions being asked. In particular, mapping offers a wide range of freedom to the researcher, often times helping “them [to] make decisions by processing data in associations with maps”, as well as visual representation of what is being researched (Kretzschmar 2013). GIS, standing for Geographic Information System, has become the go-to information system for this kind of work.

I chose to focus on the mapping application, ArcGIS, in order to answer my research question involving locations of touring group’s performances in relation to their patrons. I was particularly interested in this question based off of our previous projects throughout the semester. Being “inherently spatial beings: we live in a physical world and routinely use spatial concepts of distance and direction to navigate our way through it” (Bodenhamer 2010, p.14). Mapping provided me with a platform to present my research question and offer a visual representation for me to study. Specifically, ArcGIS allowed me to interact with the data and find areas that interested me most. By researching spatially, I was able to focus my research question and present it in a way that was not only visually appealing, but mentally stimulating as well.

Originally, I had hoped that the data would support my hypothesis. After being presented with the pages of data, I decided to create a hypothesis regarding location and patrons. Specifically, my hypothesis read: the locations each touring group traveled to was determined by the region of their patron as well as the land that he owned. I was particularly interested in this because mapping tells stories that “are both individual and collective, and each of them link geography (space) and (time)” (Bodenhamer 2010, p.16). The connection between space and time allowed me to research the connection between these factors rather than sacrificing one for the other. Before mapping any of the data, I hypothesized Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, would have his troupe perform around Oxford as well Essex, London and Middlesex because of the various land and residences that he owned in those areas. The Earl of Sussex’s Players should have performed in Essex, Sussex and Surrey. The Earl of Leicester’s Players should have performed in Middlesex, Essex, London, Warwickshare and at the abundance of residences and lands that Robert Dudley owned. Lastly, I expected the Earl of Derby’s Players to perform at Chesire, Lancashire, London and Middlesex. However, after analyzing the data points of the four touring groups, I could see that this was not the case. It was extremely frustrating to see the hypothesis fall through because I had so much confidence in this approach. Instead of the touring groups traveling to the locations of their patrons, all of them seemed to be performing at the same places. I had not accounted for this to happen and as a result, it was overwhelming to try and pick apart. I was at a standstill because I had come up with a solution in my mind, yet when the concrete data was factored in, it did not match up. For as much as I wanted to see the data turn out to be different, I knew that modifications and improvements to my hypothesis was needed.

Although frustrated and overwhelmed by the process thus far, I knew that I needed to adjust my way of thinking. Mapping would allow me to quickly and easily add and delete data, one of the major benefits of the application. Stepping away from the patrons of the groups, I decided to look at the data that was already in front of me. I could clearly see a pattern between all of the layers; the groups were all traveling in a relatively common loop. Prompted by the similarity of the companies’ journeys, I knew there had to be a connection. My new hypothesis stated that instead of the patrons determining where their touring company was going to go, it was influenced by the popularity within the location as well as the competition between the various groups.

By including the data from the Queen’s Men of 1583, a deeper understanding and a further explanation could occur. The addition of an additional touring group allowed for me to see the relationship between all five groups. Ranging from the 1560’s to the 1590’s, a wider set of data was able to be collected as well as a larger set of years that could help support my new hypothesis. The incorporation of the Queen’s Men permitted me to study their travel routes in relation to the other touring companies. Although decades later, this new information would allow me to come to a conclusion about the relationship of the touring companies’ destinations and hopefully support my revised hypothesis.

The second set of data fully supported my revised hypothesis; the Queen’s Men followed the same set of location points that the previous four groups had traveled to. Although the Queen’s Men came decades later, the similarity supports the fact that the locations the groups traveled to were based upon popularity and as a form of competition. Of course there are areas that some groups went and others did not, but for the most part it is clear to see the same pattern. The inclusion of the Queen’s Men not only supported my revised hypothesis, but it also allowed me to dive deeper into the question. Once I saw that a popular touring group followed the same route that Earl of Oxford’s Players, Earl of Sussex’s Players, Earl of Leicester’s Players and Earl of Derby’s players did decades earlier I started to question the tactics. The Queen’s Men had become one of the most popular touring companies of its time; men from all of the mentioned groups left to join under the patron of Queen Elizabeth. There was little to no competition with the Queen’s Men, so did this group follow the path of the other groups because the members had once performed at all of those venues? Did the familiarity of the locations comfort the company because they knew how the audience would react? Although almost impossible to answer, these questions are interesting to look at. Without the inclusion of the Queen’s Men into my story map, I would have never come across that line of thinking.

This semester has provided me with knowledge that I would have never expected to gain. Not only have learned new skills, but the possibilities and curiosity that I have gained is immeasurable. Specifically, mapping has provided me with a platform to ask questions, seek answers and express my thoughts. The problems arose throughout this project, although frustrating, showed me how to problem solve and move forward. Luckily the data I worked with supported my second hypothesis and even allowed me to ask more questions. The bumps that I encountered were overshadowed by the pride that I felt when the collected data matched up with my prediction. In a world where everything is turning digital, these newly obtained skills and knowledge allow me to appreciate the past and look forward to the ways we can implement them into the future.

Final ArcGIS 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.Bodenhammer article.

“Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. <,_17th_Earl_of_Oxford>.

“Henry Radcliffe, 4th Earl of Sussex.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. <,_4th_Earl_of_Sussex>.

“Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. <,_4th_Earl_of_Derby>.

Kretzschmar, William A., Jr. “GIS for Language and Literary Study.” Literary Studies in the Digital Age: An Evolving Anthology. Ed. Kenneth M. Price and Ray Siemens. MLA Commons. Modern Language Association of America. 2013. Web.>

REED. University of Toronto Library, n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <>.

“Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester.” Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (c.1533-1588)., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. <>.

“What Is GIS?” What Is GIS. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. <>.