Placing Literature is the global clearinghouse for location-based literary information, collecting crowdsourced information about books and the locations where they take place—and displaying them all on an interactive world map. Since launching in June 2013, readers, educators, librarians and authors have mapped more than 2,200 places ranging from Shakespeare to Stephen King.
“Mark Twain is a uniquely American author and people mainly know him for his novels that take place in the American South, but he was also a world traveler,” said Cindy Lovell, executive director of the Mark Twain House. “His travels and writing cover some impressive geography—Europe, the Holy Lands, Fiji, Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa. Mapping his writings on Placing Literature is a great opportunity to enhance readers’ understanding of Twain literature and help others less familiar with the author to discover his writings.” Listen to Cindy talk about Mark Twain on the Placing Literature podcast. (https://soundcloud.com/
Scene cards on Placing Literature provide rich content about the book, the scene and the place where each plot point occurs. For example, clicking on Jackson’s Island near Hannibal, Missouri reveals where Huck Finn discovers Jim, a runaway slave. It’s the same island first introduced in Tom Sawyer, where Tom, Huck, and Joe Harper ran off for a few days. Just across the river is an icon marking Aunt Polly’s house where Tom Sawyer hoodwinked the other children into painting the fence for him. A few miles south stands the cave where Tom and Becky Thatcher get lost. On each card, visitors can view a photo of the place, purchase the book from a local bookstore, write a review on Goodreads and even check in at a location, indicating that they’ve been to that particular place. Users can then click ‘See All Places’ to view other novels that take place nearby.
The Mark Twain collection is the third dedicated collection on Placing Literature. A collection of novels and poems that take place in Queensland, Australia, is curated by the State Library of Queensland, and a collection of Catalan literature is curated by Espais Escrits, an organization in Barcelona.
Both were launched in April. Creating these collections gives libraries, cultural organizations and researchers a platform in which to filter and promote themed literature for a global audience.
Placing Literature plans to launch additional collections of literary places throughout the summer and is putting out a request for data. Libraries, universities, cultural organizations and researchers should contact firstname.lastname@example.org if they have existing data or would like to work with Placing Literature to create content through local programming.
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