For three years, English teacher Jerome Burg has been using Google Earth to teach literature. Each “Lit Trip” involves mapping the movements of characters over a plot’s timeline and providing excerpts, pictures, and links at each location. I found a lit trip for one of my favorite novels, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, which involves a lot of movement across the old West. McCarthy himself is said to have spent years tracing these paths and studying locations in preparation for writing the novel. You’ll find a complete list of lit trips here, including such classics as Macbeth, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and The Odyssey. It’s difficult to get a sense of the fantastic effect of visually unpacking a plot without downloading a lit trip and trying it within Google Earth (download here). But here’s a video of a lit trip for Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. It will give you a quick taste of the lit trip experience:
Finally, you can find a two-part video introduction to Lit Trips by Kate Reavey, a professor at Peninsula College, here and here.
Wes Alwan lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he works as a writer and researcher and attends the Institute for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture. He also participates in The Partially Examined Life, a podcast consisting of informal discussions about philosophical texts by three philosophy graduate school dropouts.
Open Culture is the truth.