The Literary New Orleans project, including its map of literary locations, is the creation of University of Richmond professor Suzanne Jones and students in her 2013 seminar class.
While built on an interactive Google Map, Literary New Orleans immediately stands out from other maps we have reviewed with its unique pins that include images of the authors. This stylistic choice is just one of many features that distinguishes this map, however.
Selecting a pin will bring up two pop-ups: the first is directly connected to the location and includes the author, work, and location along with a link that will open a street view of the location. This is a small addition that I have not seen elsewhere that enhances a visitor’s ability to interact with the location. The second popup, displayed below and to the right of the pin, includes a picture of the author and a link or links to articles about the work and its setting in the city. These are articles that students in Professor Jones’ seminar wrote. From a design standpoint, having two popups emerge from a single click is awkward, but the content in each is valuable in its own way.
Beneath the map, the site also includes a timeline, adding another dimension to the study of the city’s literary significance. The timeline neatly illustrates how the different authors’ lives and works overlap. Other pages on the site provide historical context for the city’s neighborhoods and an overview of the project.
Between the map, the timeline, the detailed student essays, and other contextual information, the Literary New Orleans map is one of the most thorough literary maps for a single city. The website goes even further though, offering resources for creating a similar map and models for citing sources on the “Tools” page.
Completed entirely in the spring semester of 2013 with the help of the University of Richmond’s Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology and the Digital Scholarship Lab, the map serves as an excellent example of how exploring a place through literature can engage and motivate students while creating a valuable artifact.
Have you contributed to a literary map in an academic setting? Tell us about it in the comments below or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.