How to Read the Maps

Chronotopic Cartographies is a scoping project that aims to test the usefulness of tools for mapping and visualisation of literary place and space across a wide range of texts from different periods. Its primary aim is to create tools and methods that enable the literary mapping of places other than those in the real-world. It therefore privileges non-referential mapping and relative mapping. This also means that the maps that are generated out of the spatial schema are relative rather than absolute.

The visualisations produced and shown here are technically graphs, but we call them maps because this is how they function in relation to the literary text to which they correspond. They literally "map out" spatial elements from the text itself.

For Chronotopic Cartographies we divided literature into five different spatial types – these are our "Chronotypes":

  • Correspondent Places
  • Indefinite Spaces
  • Nested Worlds
  • Fantastic Worlds
  • Spaces of Exile

These types are intended to cover the full range of spatial forms and to cut across literary genres. However, they are not absolute – some texts could fall into more than one category, some categories are not really represented (e.g. future worlds; sci-fi) and the final category could be split up amongst the others. Nevertheless, these give us a base structure from which to generate loosely comparative map forms across a range of texts.


What is Being Mapped?

The underlying concept that drives our mapping model is Bakhtin’s "chronotope" or time-space for literature. In "Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel", Bakhtin describes various forms of chronotope within his own macro-generic categories. We have elicited his examples and used these as the base map "symbols" for the different kind of spatio-temporal phases within a novel.

The nodes on the map (graph) correspond to key chronotopic points within the text.

The connections between nodes denote the way in which the text moves between chronotopes.

The toporefs around a chronotope correspond to places that are named within the text at that point.

The size of the chronotope symbol on the map denotes the amount of text dedicated to it within the literary work.


The Key

The spatial types ('topoi') and connections are derived substantially from the chronotope essay. Because of the idiosyncrasies of Bakhtin’s critical interests, some of these categories (for example the 'parlour') are a little dated, but we have chosen not to modernise them. Categorising spatial types along these lines is to some degree subjective; moreover, individual topoi may fit into more than one spatial category.

Spatialising an entire text (as we have done) has required us to supplement Bakhtin in some places. We have added the spatial type 'metanarrative' to describe purely textual spaces or relations which link the text in question to other texts in a range of ways.



Symbol Name Description
Encounter An unexpected happening, sudden shift, any meeting. Can occur anywhere, but frequently on the road.
Road Paths, travel, journey, options, coming and going, wandering.
Castle Confinement, imprisonment, stasis, discomfort, dark, visible traces of the past.
Idyll Familiarity, comfort, happiness, pleasure, peace, respite, self-contained, unified, stable, homely, known.
Idyllic Wilderness The wild, openness, freedom, untouched, the earth, the natural world, unity.
Anti-Idyll Dystopias, post-apocalyptic settings, mechanical, the idyll destroyed, invaded, or made alien. Can be exterior or interior.
Threshold The hall, the corridor, the staircase, the street, docks, stations, liminal spaces, emotionally charged, intense, sublime, excess, a place of contrasts.
Parlour Interior, room, defined, bounded, hosting guests, where the public and private merge, where dialogues happen, a site of political and commercial intrigue.
Provincial Town Community, locality, rustic, petty-bourgeois, specific locales, quaint little houses and rooms of the town, sleepy streets.
Public Square Dynamic, crowd, forum, metropolitan, the internal externalized (the private/intimate becomes public), theatrical (place of the clown, the rogue, the fool).
Distortion Elsewhere, miraculous, bewitched, dreams, hallucinations.
Metanarrative For sections of text without a concrete sense of space, which could be internal (e.g. commentary, direct address to the reader) or external (e.g. glosses, framing statements, contained texts; authorial/editorial notes, etc) to the narrative. See metatextual / paratextual / intratextual connection types.



Symbol Name Description
Direct Where frames are physically connected and the narrative shifts seamlessly between two related topoi.
Indirect Where topoi which are not immediately reachable from the current frame are referenced (aside from a 'jump', per below). E.g. points viewed from afar.
Projection Where the narrative movement is conducted through imagination, memory, dreams, etc.
Interrupt Where the narrative movement reverts to a previous state after a tangent or diversion.
Jump Where the narrative movement is disconnected, or broken by interrupts. Usually a signalling of a significant shift that has bypassed several frames.
Metatextual Where the narrative refers externally to another pre-existing work.
Paratextual Where the narrative contains a sub-narrative that is linked but could be separated from it.
Intratextual Where the narrative refers externally or draws attention to its own fictionality.


Map Forms

On the website we display examples of the kinds of maps that can be generated out of the spatial schema. These are primarily:

Complete chronotopic map: all of the spaces and all the toporefs within the entire text and the connections between them. This is usually the landing-place map.

Filtered versions of the complete map: maps for which certain elements have been filtered out allowing us to emphasise different aspects of the spatial structure. e.g. Fabula/ Syuzhet distinction maps

Partial maps generated from a section of the text: e.g. mapping across individual chapters

Comparative map versions: comparing maps generated from different versions of the same text

Deep chronotopic map: shows the proportional weighting of chronotopes within a text and which is dominant

Referential maps: map onto real world locations or fictional maps from within texts