Digital Mapping Projects

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The Venice Ghetto at 500: Digitally Mapping a “Memory Space that Travels”

 Amanda Sharick (PhD candidate in English, UC Riverside), Erica Smeltzer (PhD candidate in Literature, UC Santa Cruz), and Katie Trostel (PhD candidate in Literature, UC Santa Cruz) have spent the past year developing an exhibit of three digital mapping projects. These projects utilize the GIS platform StoryMaps to bring together research about the legacy of the Jewish ghetto as a discrete place and metaphor in Latin America, Central and Western Europe, and England, and produce illustrative maps with textual and visual depth. Each map examines the intersection of geographic data and literary analysis, thus rendering new insights into the way Jewish literature defines space and memory.

In order to share our mapping projects with a public both in and outside academia, we have developed an interactive digital display. Functioning like an electronic poster, we created a PowerPoint presentation that provides background information on the Venice Ghetto and its history, our working group’s activities, and the theoretical stakes behind digital mapping as a tool for humanistic inquiry. Embedded in the PowerPoint are links that lead the viewer to our mapping projects, housed in the online platform StoryMaps. (More information on StoryMaps available here: http://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/).

With this portable display, we shared our work at the San Francisco Jewish Community Library (program available here: http://www.jewishlearningworks.org/events/2016/3/29/exhibition-opening-for-il-ghetto-the-venice-ghetto-at-500) and at Fresno State University (program available here: http://www.fresnostate.edu/socialsciences/historydept/degrees/jewish-studies/).

Our work explores the following questions: In our digital era, is it possible to place the Ghetto of Venice into a new historical constellation that disrupts the effects of ‘frozen’ museum time? How can the Ghetto of Venice be conceived as a dynamic space rather than a static archive? And, most importantly for our digital projects, how has and how might imagery of the ghetto change alongside developments in technology? Our projects will reflect these discussions and document our experiences in Venice. We will add video recordings of poetry readings, interviews, images, music, and scholarly reflections to our maps in order to provide dynamic insight into the iconic space of the Venice Ghetto.

Below are the links to the full mapping projects (in progress):

Katie Trostel’s Memory Mapping Marjorie Agosín’s Cartographies

Erica Smeltzer’s  Travel Writing and Ghetto Tales: Tracing the Ghetto in Egon Erwin Kisch’s “Tales from Seven Ghettos”

Amanda Sharick’s “To New and Nobler Purposes”: Tracing and Transposing the Recurring Ghetto in the Works of Anglo-Jewish writers, 1880-1900

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