MAP: Map of Kansas Literature

Map of Kansas Literature

The Kansas Literary Map (http://www.washburn.edu/reference/cks/mapping/) has been the result of a decades long commitment by Kansas writer and Washburn University professor Thomas Averill. When I spoke with Professor Averill in the summer of 2014, he explained how he had been teaching literature for many years and was tired of simply collecting papers. He had an interest in technology and decided to use that interest to engage the students in his Kansas Literature class in a new way. Their contributions helped build the first map, a project that he has continued with the help of work study students.

The digital map’s design recalls the paper versions that preceded it; however, clicking through the locations on the interactive map will bring up descriptions of individual places and lists of authors who have written about or resided in those locations. The author pages reveal full depth of this mapping project.

Each author, whether widely known or local, receives a page that includes a personalized map of the state identifying locations from his or her works and a carefully crafted biography describing the author’s connection to Kansas. In addition, there are also lists of works, writing samples, and interviews among other details about the writer.

It is my opinion that the best literary maps are those that delve deeply into their subject matter, leading the visitor further and further into an understanding of a place through its storytellers, and the Map of Kansas Literature is an excellent example of this.

In looking for book and literary maps, I found several that were similar to this in that they, while attached to an institution, are created and largely maintained by the passion of a single individual. The Literary Map of Detroit is another example that I have written about. One of the tests of Booma is to see if it is possible to create a project of this sort that can be genuinely supported by a community.

Have ideas about how to grow the Booma community? Know of a book or literary map that we should share? Send your thoughts to booma@booma.us.

See the rest of our posts about maps here: http://booma.us/category/map/.