Gibbons Student Jenny Ibsen ’18: Mapping London’s Mass Graves

To help Associate Professor of English Ann Kibbie prepare to teach her fall class, Imagining London in Eighteenth-Century Literature, Jenny Ibsen ’18 pored through Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year. This fictional diary charts daily life in London before the great fire, and mentions many specific locations for the mass burial sites of bubonic plague victims. Ibsen is mapping these sites—which have long since been covered over by buildings—onto old and contemporary maps.

Kibbie’s digital English class focuses on journals, plays, and novels in which London plays a big role. In addition to analyzing these works, her students use digital mapping, spatial analysis, and other digital tools to “contextualize, enrich, and question the literature,” Kibbie explains in her course description.

Ibsen, a self-designed urban studies major, explained, “We’re using maps to better understand texts. It’s a new avenue to understanding books.” Ibsen is a self-design urban studies major and visual arts minor, and said she wants to attend graduate school to study urban studies and policy.

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