Final Project Proposal: Story Map The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

I want to create a story map of a chapter from Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room (2018) as a proof of concept (to map the whole novel would take too long). I don’t know which chapter I want to story map because I haven’t read the book yet. I’m interested in story mapping this novel because its theme – prison – ties in with my final project for DHUM 7000, which aims to develop a DH course to be taught in prison. One of the audiences I have in mind for my story map is incarcerated people.

I want to create the story map with ArcGIS because I was very impressed with the story maps some of my peers created with this platform this semester. This may be challenging because I’ve never used ArcGIS or any other story mapping platform (I’ve never story mapped at all) but I’m confident that I’ll figure it out. A story map that particularly impressed me was The Motorcycle Diaries by Rob Garfield for DHUM 7000. I’d like my story map of The Mars Room to look a lot like that.

I think I need to have a specific critical purpose in story mapping The Mars Room, but don’t have one yet. If anyone has any thoughts about how I may approach this novel please share.

Rachel Kushner interests me a lot because she was born the same year I was born, and her parents were bohemian scientists (mine were bohemian artists with scientific bents), and the New York Times says she and her brother were “dirty ragamuffin children [and that she] spent a huge amount of time by [herself so she] daydreamed and learned how to be alone and not be lonely” (Maria Russo, “Knowingly Navigating the Unknown,” The New York Times May 2013). Kushner intrigues me because my childhood was a lot like that.

While my proposal is still too vague, I think that the combination of personal and academic interests that prompt me to write about The Mars Room will lead to potentially compelling work.


One thought on “Final Project Proposal: Story Map The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

  1. I think this is a worthy project, and the story maps concept is a useful extension of our “editions” of BENITO CERENO, but I agree with your assessment that things are a bit too “vague” and you will need to draw a tighter focus in order to avoid “mission drift.” Are you going to provide an edition of Kushner with an accompanying map? It’s in copyright, so that would be challenging in several ways. Are you planning to provide a commentary on the novel accompanied by maps? And why this novel in particular? I understand the personal connection to the author/text, but how does it lend itself to mapping?

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