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Spatializing and Analyzing Digital Texts: Corpora, GIS, and Places

Cooper, DC and Gregory, IN and Hardie, A and Rayson, P (2015) Spatializing and Analyzing Digital Texts: Corpora, GIS, and Places. In: Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives. Indiana University PressBloomington, Indiana. ISBN 978-0-253-01567-9

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Abstract

This paper argues for Geographical Text Analysis (GTA), a new approach based on combining techniques from corpus linguistics and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). First these allow a text to be converted into a GIS. Corpus linguistics allows place-names to be extracted from texts. These place-names can then be matched to a gazetteer to provide grid references which subsequently allow the place-names to be converted into a GIS layer. Once this has been done, GTA also allows the text to summarize and analyze the geographies within the texts. These approaches can be applied to very large bodies of text, potentially millions or billions of words. We argue that this approach does not replace close reading which is more commonly used in the study of texts. Instead it allows very large volumes of text to be summarized and the close reader’s attention to be drawn to the parts of the text that are most relevant to their interest in particular places or the themes associated with these places. The implications of this approach in relation to deep mapping and literary studies are discussed.

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