GIS | College of Arts


2021 Summer Workshops, college of arts, university of guelph

Spatial Humanities:
Exploring GIS in the Humanities


Quin Shirk-Luckett, University of Guelph
Teresa Lewitsky, University of Guelph


How can spatial exploration and mapping help you develop new understandings and unique perspectives of fictional and historical material? Everything happens some-where. The concept of space can range from simple, to complex and relativistic.

Researchers can turn their bits of paper into bytes of data and create digitized versions of previously analog artefacts of history and culture. Subjected to spatial analysis, many artefacts reveal new ways to engage with the information revealing new patterns, trends and understanding that have previously been hidden.

Not surprisingly there has been a steady uptake amongst academics within the Humanities in the usage of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) in their research. The results of which have been visually powerful and, in many cases, offer new perspectives on long studied topics.

This hands-on workshop is for participants who are interested in visualizing their research in a spatial way. 

At the end of this course participants will be able to:

Create spatial datasets from digitized materials using ArcGIS software.  Processes will include:

  • Creating tabular data to be mapped.

  • Georeferencing images: assigning geographic coordinates to enable the image to sit in the correct place in the world, in the software.

  • Vectorizing images: tracing significant features from the georeferenced images to create points, lines, and polygon features to use in analysis.

  • Conduct basic spatial analysis.

  • Find and evaluate spatial data.

Technical notes for learning GIS virtually

  • Participants will be encouraged to use their home institution’s ESRI license to install ArcGIS on their own machine, if their institution has an ESRI license.  Having the software installed on your machine is the best way to use the software.

  • Those who don’t have access to a license through their institution will have Remote Desktop access to a Windows machine at UofG to use the software remotely for the duration of the workshop. Directions to set this up ahead will be provided.

  • All participants must have a strong and reliable internet connection.

  • Participant experience will be improved by having 2 or more monitors connected to see both the meeting and the GIS software at the same time.