Google Lit Trips

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 Mac­bethPor­trait 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.

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