The Gazetteer For A Frankenstein Atlas
What is a Gazetteer?
A "gazetteer" is a geographical dictionary that supplements the information found in maps. Information in a gazetteer might include social, geological, or administrative information that provides richer insights into the material under analysis.
In its simplest form, a gazetteer is an alphabetical list of locations that provides basic geographical information. In Mary Shelley's lifetime, travelers could use these to help them navigate from place to place. Take, for example, the Gazetteer of France, published in 1793. The entries in the text are relatively simple, generally situating places in relation to other towns and villages. For example, the text for Montluel reads
Montluel, a town of Bresse, situated in a fertile country on the Serraine, in the diocese of Lyons, and bailiwick of Bourg; 12 leagues from Bourg, 6 from Lyons, 36 1/2 from Geneva, and 121 1/2 from Paris. p. Bourg-en-Bresse.
As tourism increased over the course of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, writers of gazetteers focused on developing books that had useful information for travelers. These might include highlights about local history or details on country houses to visit in the area (see, for example, Crosby’s Complete Pocket Gazetteer of England and Wales. London, 1815).
And, as European empires and trade continued to expand in the eighteenth century, so too did the scope and scale of gazetteers. With greater access to printed materials, including newspapers and novels, gazetteers provided useful reference guides to foreign locales. In the age of encyclopedias, gazetteers encompassed the mass of geographical information flowing in from travelers, armies, and surveyors.
Gazetteers served both educational and rhetorical functions. They could narrate histories about regions, nations, and even families. Contemporary writers highlighted the expansion of empires. Patrons encouraged authors of gazetteers to highlight the deep roots of their lineage in a region similarly to chorographical works, such as English county histories published during this period (see, for example, Gilbert, Charles Sandoe. An Historical Survey of the County of Cornwall. 2v. in 3. vols. Plymouth-Dock: J. Congdon, 1817). Writers found gazetteers valuable resources to construct their stories. It is quite possible that Shelley consulted maps and gazetteers as she plotted the action in her novel.
Gazetteers and Digital Humanities
Gazetteers remain essential to the work of geographers and historians. This is especially true in the realm of the digital humanities where scholars often work with large data sets and require standardization of place names and geographical coordinates. A number of new projects are in process, which are focused on building open access digital historical gazetteers and atlases. Representative examples include the Pleiades dataset, which is a digital version of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World created by Pleiades and the Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilization (DARMC) project at Harvard. For the early modern world, the Map of Early Modern London Project has created The MoEML Gazetteer of Early Modern London. Over the past several years, scholars associated with the Pelagios Commons have been creating an Open Linked Data framework for historical geography to which numerous projects contribute.
The Gazetteer for A Frankenstein Atlas is a work-in-progress. The research team has extracted all the place name data from Frankenstein. This includes names of specific locations, such as "Geneva," but it also includes ambiguous location data, such as "the cottage" of the de Lacey family. Using the schema that we have developed, the gazetteer includes the following data fields.
uniqueID: determined by a scene specific to a time and place. If the same location is revisited in the book, this new scene will have a new uniqueID.
latitude: decimal coordinates
longitude: decimal coordinates
loc_name_shelley: name of location as labelled by Mary Shelley
loc_name_18c: alternative 18th century name of loc_name_shelley (for example, Shelley's "Mayence" is labelled "Mainz" in this field)
loc_name_modern: modern name of the location
loc_type [dropdown list]: The location types that we use in A Frankenstein Atlas are modified from A Literary Atlas of Europe/Ein literarischer Atlas Europas as described by Barbara Piatti in "Mapping Fiction: The Theories, Tools, and Potentials of Literary Cartography" in Literary Mapping in the Digital Age, ed. David Cooper, et al. (Routledge, 2016), 92-93.
loc_action: location of the action; a specific point in space
loc_zone: zone of action; multiple, undefined locations
loc_projected: projected places/spaces; locations that exist in the world; referred to but not visited which are tied to a character's memory, dream, or desire
loc_topmarker: places mentioned in the text but not part of action
loc_path: paths and routes; trajectory in space of action
loc_imaginary: spaces that do not exist in the world; imagined by characters
loc_extratextual: locations mentioned in the book that are not part of the narrative; e.g. locations mentioned on title page, in editor's footnotes, etc.
To access the Gazetteer or provide updates or revisions, visit the Github page for A Frankenstein Atlas.
Interactive Map of Frankenstein
Our interactive map includes a list of all locations mentioned in Shelley's 1818 edition of Frankenstein. It is color coded to loc-type (see above). Page numbers refer to Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Edited by J. Paul Hunter. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. If you would like to extend this interactive map, feel free to branch the .kmz file available on our Github page.