Boundary Work


Crossmapping superimposes item A onto item B and item B onto item A, revealing a bidirectional relationship between the two items. These “items” can be virtually anything: works from different disciplines (transmedial), works from the same disciplines and across different time periods (transhistorical), ecosystems across different continents (transpatial), people from different cultures (transcultural), etc.

By applying crossmapping, according to Mieke Bal, “the revision produced by mapping one text onto another neither collapses past and present, nor does it reify the past as an object that we can grasp in an unmediated manner” (Bronfen, 135). In crossmapping, the text from the past is reconsidered in light of the text from the present. Roland Barthe approaches this consideration of past and present as an “oscillation between past and present” (Bronfen 141). He presents an metaphor: sitting in the back of a moving car, looking out the window, one can choose to focus on the moving landscape outside or the glass window of the car, but not simultaneously. Such oscillation of focus is also the case when crossmapping the properties of item A to item B.

Bronfen, Elisabeth | Crossmapping: A Hermeneutic Practice

Video lecture (1h 12m): Elisabeth Bronfen: Crossmapping – An Analytic Method for Literary and Cultural Analysis

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