In considering this project, I talked to my fiance who is fascinated by Jack Kerouac’s famous three year journey, which is recapped by Kerouac in On the Road. This conversation inspired me to research this legendary journey, which gave me an idea for an electronic literature project. In On the Road, Kerouac’s characters Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty (thinly veiled caricatures of Kerouac and his friend Neal Cassady) travel all around the United States and into Mexico, and makes scores of stops along the way. The story details their experiences on their trip across the country and across the border, which I think would be an incredibly cool adventure to study.
Back when I considered doing my thesis on Digital Humanities methodologies, I encountered the idea of utilizing Google Maps as a way to create non-linear literature. Google Maps is a great tool, and I think it would be helpful in this project. By using Maps, I would be able to pinpoint Sal and Dean’s travels and correlate the map with excerpts from the story. Kerouac is known for his extensive travels and, as a teacher and lover of literature, I think that an interactive map would be an amazing way to bring readers along the journey. In addition to detailing parts of the book, the map would be an excellent way to teach readers various historical details about life in the late 1940s.
In addition to Google Maps, I would require a website on which to host this project. From research, I believe that Wix would be a great hosting platform because it would allow me to create several pages on which to tell this story. My ideal website would be a home page with an older looking map and bold linked text reading, “I first met Dean after my wife and I split up” (the first line of the book). Upon clicking this link, the reader will be lead to an expanded map on the United States and Mexico, with pinpoints throughout. If the reader clicks on a pinpoint, they will be able to zoom in on the location on the map, read an excerpt from a book, and see photographs from that location around the date of Sal and Dean’s adventures.
I must disclose that after coming up with this idea, I did some research and realized that something similar has already been created. Even so, I really like this idea as a way of delving into electronic literature and would still be interested in doing it myself as a way of practicing electronic literature and learning about a great story. Further, as a future teacher, I think that Google Maps, Wix, and other such tools allow students to experience a world of opportunities. Whether they are learning about Kerouac, history, or the travels of another fascinating writer or character, electronic literature allows students of all ages to step into the digital world and mesh their love of a topic with current technology.