Sign in or register
for additional privileges

Time, Space, and the Itinerary

Mapping the Siege of Jerusalem

Alyssa McLeod, Author

You appear to be using an older verion of Internet Explorer. For the best experience please upgrade your IE version or switch to a another web browser.

A Digital Itinerary

"With the advent of modernity," Henri Lefebvre contends, "time has vanished from social space" (95). As I begin to develop a model for the narrative time and space of the Siege of Jerusalem, I take the medieval itinerary, which subordinates space to the processional unfolding of time, as my exemplar. Instead of georeferencing the events of the poem onto a map of the world, this model will visualize temporal data in a non-cartographic way, because contemporary cartography no longer has an established means of effectively visualizing the itinerary. Furthermore, as Lefebvre argues, space cannot be represented by an image, because images themselves are fragments of space (96-97).

Yet traditional timelines also pose interpretive problems. The "(Un)reality of the Timeline," as Geoffrey Rockwell terms it, has troubled thinkers since the classical period. In the Confessions, written in the late fourth century, St. Augustine declares that only the present can truly exist, since "the past is not now present and the future is not yet present," and then questions the existence of the present itself: "If then, in order to be time at all, the present is so made that it passes into the past, how can we say that this present also 'is?' The cause of its being is that it will cease to be" (11.17). Modelling narrative time requires a platform that will provide a means of representing temporal ambiguity.

First, I will tag the Siege of Jerusalem with TEI time elements, which, although limited by their inability to define indefinite time, can still convey some ambiguity. Below is a screenshot of the TEI P5 guidelines for the @when element, which provides the "normalised form for any temporal expression" (TEI n.pag):

The TEI guidelines also provide a means of representing a range of dates through the @notBefore and @notAfter elements:

These attributes will help indicate the dates of historical events in the poem, which generally have specific years and, depending on surviving records, months and days associated with them. Here are the opening lines of the poem tagged with TEI time elements:
In <date when="33AD">Tyberyus tyme</date>,    the trewe emperour,
Sire Sesar hymsulf,    seysed in Rome,
Whyle Pylat was provost    undere that prince riche
And Jewen justice also    in Judeus londis. (1-4) [20]
I will also develop an internally consistent XML schematic to tag the nontraditional time structures that underlie the poem: the rise and set of the sun, the breakfast and supper times, and the holiday seasons. One added benefit of tagging the poem with traditional XML is that the data will remain exportable and transformable should the model take a different direction.

Next, I will transform my encoded text with XSLT into XML compatible with the schema associated with the Timeline widget developed by the Simile Project at MIT, a JavaScript-based tool that allows the user to differentiate between three basic event types:
1. A duration; that is, an event that proceeds for a long period of time
2. An instantaneous event that nonetheless has an imprecise or unknown starting time
3. An instantaneous event with a precise or known starting time
With some slight adjustments to the Timeline API, I will visually display a series of overlapping timelines that model and contrast the Siege's different systems of time: historical, biblical, liturgical, and embodied, or "reader" time.
Comment on this page

Discussion of "A Digital Itinerary"

Add your voice to this discussion.

Checking your signed in status ...

Previous page on path Siege of Jerusalem, page 8 of 11 Next page on path