Manchester Metropolitan University are partners in an innovative new project to bring famous literary landscapes to life.

Dr David Cooper, Senior Lecturer in English, is co-investigator in a three-year initiative which has been awarded a £914,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to create maps and 3D models of fictional locations from classic literature.

So the likes of Treasure Island, Middle Earth and Middlemarch – until now just products of the reader’s imagination – could become Minecraft maps or gaming platforms to be used as innovative teaching resources.

These models will be created through a combination of language processing and data visualisation techniques.  By taking inspiration from descriptions of these worlds from the texts, and using geographic information systems to capture and present spatial and geographic data, authentic 3D outputs will be created.

Lancaster University will be leading on the project, entitled ‘Creating a Chronotopic Ground for the Mapping of Literary Texts: Innovative Data Visualisation and Spatial Interpretation in the Digital Medium’, which also involves academics from Edinburgh University, University College London, Sunderland and Chester.

Dr Cooper, using his expertise in digital literary geographies, will be focusing on working with digital specialists to plan how the maps should look and behave.

He said: “I am delighted to be part of this fascinating new project, which will transform famous literary scenes into evocative digital worlds to explore. The project forms part of Manchester Metropolitan’s ambition to be a leading centre for teaching and research into the relationship between writing and place.

“A key element of this is work that explores the synergies and tensions between place, writing and digital technologies. This ambition is exemplified through work such as this, and our annual Place Writing Festival.”


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