Digital Literary Mapping: I. Visualizing and Reading Graph Topologies as Maps for Literature

Sally Bushell, James O Butler, Duncan Hay, Rebecca Hutcheon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper is the first of two linked pieces that emerge out of the AHRC-funded Chronotopic Cartographies project for the mapping of place and space in literature. The paper aims to establish the value of a topological approach for the mapping of literary texts. It is centred on Bakhtin’s concept of the “chronotope” or “time-space” as the basis for digitally mapping spatial meaning in literary works. It begins by contextualizing our work in relation to the field of literary geography and cartography. It then makes a clear distinction between mapping to the real world using GIS (as is common in fields such as history or geography) and mapping relatively, using topologies, which we argue is essential for the mapping of fictional place and space. The current digital models that are closest to this project concern social network analysis and its adaptation to the mapping of character networks in literary texts. After contextualizing our work in relation to this research, we aim to provide a rationale for the use of topological models in literary mapping. A range of topological forms and their meaning for literature is examined with reference to particular examples from the Chronotopic Cartographies project.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2021-0008
Pages (from-to)11-36
Number of pages25
Issue number1
Early online date15 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • literary mapping
  • topology
  • chronotope
  • space
  • time
  • text
  • maps


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