I am excited to announce the launch of my ‘22-’23 CHI project, the Stratford Heritage Guide.

The presentation of Shakespeare’s legacy has evolved over the centuries, and narratives regarding the greatness of the playwright have been curated in very specific and intentional ways to cement him as an English cultural icon. Although Shakespeare wrote all his plays in London, his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon has grown to become more closely associated with the playwright through these constructed histories. However, this gravitation toward the playwright’s childhood home and grave site did not become popular until the 19th century. By analyzing guidebooks from this period, I aim to demonstrate how public understanding of the various monuments in Stratford has evolved and analyze how the information provided in these guidebooks has been continually reinvented over time. Ultimately, this project demonstrates the subjective nature of Stratford’s relationship with Shakespeare and explores how narratives about that town that are presented to visitors as completely objective have attempted to influence visitors’ perspectives in this space.

The map was created using Leaflet with MapBox tiles and pinpoints the various tourist sites related to Shakespeare in Stratford and the surrounding area. There are twelve layers on the map, each representing a different guidebook. On a layer, the pins are numbered to indicate the order that a guidebook suggests visitors tour the different sites. The popup tied to the pin includes an image of that site as portrayed in that guidebook (if available), and a link to a page analyzing the way that site is described across the corpus of guidebooks. The methods for developing the visualizations on each of these site pages can be found on the “Method” page. Each of the guidebooks can be accessed via the “Guidebooks” tab, which includes a collection of buttons that take you to the Google Books copy of each guidebook.

I will be continuing to work on this project over the next year as I finish up my dissertation project, and I am excited to see how it continues to evolve. I will be visiting Stratford this summer, and will hopefully be able to fill in some of the gaps that currently exist in this project. I hope this project as it exists now and as it continues into the future provides a helpful look into the cultural heritage of Shakespeare’s hometown.