Literary High Street

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Literary High Street

Literary High Street is a project led by John Lee, who is a professor of the University of Edinburgh.  The work is a part of work for Literary Edinburgh project by English literature department and Edinburgh College of Art.  This project developed a prototype of mobile app featuring Edinburgh’s High Street and local literature.


Literary Edinburgh Project

Electronic Literature

Ambient Audio:

Traditional walking tour:

Ian Hamilton Finlay:

A Literary Psychogeography of Tokyo & Amsterdam:

Historic maps:



Surrealist literary technique


After World War I, Europe was in misanthropic and anti-war moods.  Dadaism, which was an international artistic and literary movement in European countries, was born as a nihilistic  reaction against establishment, oppression and conformity.  Tristan Tzara who was a core member of Dadaism in Zurich declared “DADA DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING” in his book “Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries” in 1917.

“Every page should explode, either because of its profound gravity or its vortex, vertigo, newness, eternity, or because of its staggering absurdity, the enthusiasm of its principles, or its typography.”  – Tristan Tzara”Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries”


Gradually, some Dadaists were interested in Surrealism which was similar artistic and literary movement consecrated by Andre Breton in 1924.  Surrealists began to experiment with techniques such as automatic writing and poetry.  Also, they tried interactive co-creation that multiple writers add a few more lines after the sentence others wrote.


Dada and Surrealism

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Surrealism

Tristan Tzara. 1977. Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries, translated by Barbara Wright. London. John Calder. p.6.

Kafka’s Wound


Kafka’s Wound is a digital literary work produced a novelist and essayist Will Self and The London Review of Books. The website is comprised of more than one-hundred contents including essays, videos, audio, gallery and interactive contents. Will wrote the main essay about Franz Kafka’s story ‘A Country Doctor’, and more than seventy authors researched and published other essays.

Non-linear essay

The author said that “there is no prescribed ‘right’ path” in the essay.  The essay let users read whatever they are interested in like non-linear narrative contents.  Although there is the main essay, there are also various kinds of supplement content and notes such as videos, games and audios woven though it.

‘Kafka’s Wound’, a digital literary essay, has been designed to allow both the text of the essay, and the wealth of additional digital content woven through it, to be discovered and explored by each reader individually; there is no prescribed ‘right’ path.

How to Use This Site:


About ‘Kafka’s Wound’

Using geolocation

Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh

Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin is a Scottish novelist and crime writer living in Edinburgh.  He is well known for Inspector Rebus series and BBC programs such as Rankin on the Staircase.   Also, BBC made  programs “Ian Rankin’s Hidden Edinburgh” and “Ian Rankin Investigates Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde,” in which Rankin walked around Edinburgh to explore his origin of inspiration.

Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh

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“Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh” is a Edinburgh guide tour app for Ian’s novel fans.  The app provide a customized Google map of Edinburgh and various kinds of supplement contents related to Ian’s characters and novels.  Ian’s fans can talk a walk using the map and tour route, and check episodes and information whenever they click a pin on the map.  The app includes not only  specific contents about Ian’s novels but also basic Edinburgh’s tour information because most of Ian’s fan have not been Edinburgh.  To achieve the purpose, the app focuses on the quality of photos.

geographical information and literature

The app customized Google map and put pins and information on relevant places.  Some literature has strong relationship with existing places.  For instance, Royal Mile has lot of ghost and scary historical stories, and many guide tours are held.


Ian Rankin’s official website

Rebus’s Tour

Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh

HTML5: Geolocation API

Geolocation API return geographical location information including latitude and longitude of current visitor’s location.  GPS and IP adrress are common source of the location.

Geolocation API is supported on these browsers; Google Chrome, Firefox 3.5 and higher, Opera 10.6 and higher, Internet Explorer 9 and higher and Safari 5.

Sample Code

The sample code shows your current location.


Geolocation API Specification

How To Use HTML5 GeoLocation API With Google Maps


Using geolocation

You Are Here (And So Is Everybody Else)

Mapping Literature : W.G. Sebald “The Ring of Saturn”

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LITMAP: Mapping Literature – Barbara L Hui

Litmap is a geological references of  literature using Google Map.  The website shows all places refereed in “The Ring of Saturn” by German novelist W.G. Sebald.

W.G. Sebald “The Ring of Saturn”

After World War II, Sebald moved to England and settled in Norwich until his death by a car accident in 2001.  In “The Ring of Saturn”, a character wanders both real places in Suffork and reminiscent places, related to literature and Sebald’s memory in the World War II.  In other words, the book is an noctambulous travel essay the author is straying around his memory and imaginary landscapes written in literature, he had never been before.

Litmap and “Patience : After Sebald”

The book has fascinated many people, and some of them created fan works.  Litmap is one of the fun works about “Ring of Saturn” by Barbara L Hui.  She checked all places refereed in the book, and added pins on Google Map.  In the book, it is almost impossible to follow his journey because he was straying not only Suffolk (he was there) but also around German, Africa, Poland and France at the same time.  She unveiled his mysterious footsteps by elaborate research.  We can see a episode of the book if we click a pin on the Litmap.

One of the most significant work is “Patience After Sebald”, which is a video directed by Grant Geed.  In the video, Litmap was introduced.

Patience (After Sebald) Full Movie

Non-linear Narrative and Mapping

As seen above, “The Ring of Saturn” is a kind of non-linear narrative.  There are lots of landscapes which seems not to be related to each other.  However, Sebald connect these landscapes within his memory.  He took a walk from Suffolk in 1990’s to Germany under the fire in 1940’s in a sentence.  Litmap sorted out the incoherent narrative order and shows them as a visual.

Word play

Fridge words

Fridge words is a classic game which build a meaningful sentence using word magnets.  For a long time, people play the game with word magnets.  Nowadays, there are fridge poetry website and apps.

Fridge Poetry:

Fridge Poems (iPhone apps) :

Random First Line Prompts


Random First Line Prompts is a website generating a meaningful sentence randomly.  The website was built to give imagination to short story writers.  The code must include several grammatical logic such as verb tense according to count (singular or plural) .

Arty Bollocks Generator: Instant artist statement

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Arty Bollocks Generator generates artist statement randomly as below.

Artist Statement

My work explores the relationship between Critical theory and emotional memories.

With influences as diverse as Camus and L Ron Hubbard, new synergies are synthesised from both constructed and discovered dialogues.

Ever since I was a postgraduate I have been fascinated by the essential unreality of meaning. What starts out as contemplation soon becomes corrupted into a carnival of greed, leaving only a sense of nihilism and the inevitability of a new beginning.

As spatial replicas become distorted through studious and repetitive practice, the viewer is left with an epitaph for the edges of our future.

The generator applies basic templates such as “My work explores the relationship between ***and ***”.  The code adds adjective and nouns to these blanks.

Postmodernism Generator

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Postmodernism Generator generates a thesis about post modern theme randomly.  The generator creates not only a title and sentences but also references links.  Although a generated article is completely meaningless, the word order and formula seem to follow academic writing rules.

Twist Our Words

Twist Our Words is made by Channel4 as online campaign.  Unfortunately, the website has already been deleted.

It is similar to fridge words, but output is video and voice instead of text.  After users create their own sentence using interface like fridge words, the sentences are read by famous celebrities.  Also, the website allowed users to save videos they made.  Each word are pronounced by a celebrity , and a output video combine different words spoken by different celebrities.