Malamud at Oregon State: A Digital Humanities Project

A New Life: Reception History


Overview of Project

The reception map is an open-access, interactive tool that provides insight into the relationship between the setting of a regional text and how reviewers from across geographic locations discuss the text’s location. Specifically, this project addresses how the reviewer’s geographic proximity to Oregon State affects the level of specificity the reviewer uses in describing the setting (e.g. A New life is about Corvallis vs. Oregon). By displaying this information spatially, viewers can clearly see geographic trends in how reviewers recognize and name A New Life’s location and potentially conduct statistical analysis.


A New Life is the ideal book for a reception map, because the book is heavily focused on location, and because there is a tendency among scholars and readers to draw parallels between Bernard Malamud and Sy Levin, Corvallis and Eastchester, Oregon State and Cascadia College.


The reception map is useful for those interested in reception history, literature, and linguistics.

By displaying this information spatially, we hope readers can consider the following questions:

  • Is A New Life widely perceived as a regional novel?
  • How might geographic distance from a book’s setting impact its reception?
  • Are newspapers more likely to mention the location of a A New Life if they are closer to Corvallis?
  • Do reviewers more often mention a specific place if the newspaper’s publication city is close to that place?

Explanation of Map

Each point on the map represented the city where a review of A New Life was published.The different colors indicate the most specific setting reviewers reference in their reviews of A New Life. Our color coding scheme (in order from most to least specific) is as follows:

  • Oregon State - orange
  • Corvallis - blue
  • Oregon - green
  • Pacific Northwest/ Northwest - purple
  • West/Pacific coast - yellow
  • America - red

In addition to color-coding the map, we have also coded it by shape.The reviews that mention New York, New York City, or Manhattan are diamonds, while reviews that do not mention New York are pinpoints.


You may see more information about each review by clicking on the map pinpoint. This will bring up a photo of the review, along with the name of the newspaper, author, and date. We recommend viewing the map in full-screen and zooming in on big cities, as you can’t see  every pinpoint when zoomed out. If you would like to view the reviews larger, you may also find its corresponding page linked below in the “Contents” section.


You may also view different layers of the map, which allow you to filter the points by color You can do this by selecting the swipe button on the top left corner of the map. Each layer is labeled by location (e.g. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, West). There will be a checkmark next to all of the layers. You may check or uncheck as many layers at a time as you like.

If you would like to navigate through the reviews by date of publication, you can also view the Reception Timeline



Many of the reviews we had hoped to use were too blurry to read. In addition, the reviews in foreign language were translated using Google Translate, so there could be errors in translation. To address this problem, we provided both the original language along with the English translation, so viewers may translate the text themselves if they choose. For the sake of time, we also just transcribed the sentences in the article containing the most specific location.


We were also limited by Google Maps. The layers only provide the level of highest specificity. In other words, if a review mentions both Corvallis and Oregon State, it is only color-coded for its mention of Oregon State. This could potentially mislead users to believe that a review didn’t mention a less specific location that is not represented on the map.

Looking Forward

The A New Life Reception Map is public and open to users who want to expand on it, by potentially adding more reviews or layers. Since we hope people will add on to this project, we have made our data public on this spreadsheet, and we encourage people to use the data and add to it. You may also view all of our process documents in our Google Drive folder.


Some other directions this project could go include:

  • An n-gram of the occurrence of location names in reviews
  • Full transcriptions of reviews that are searchable
  • A map that shows every location mentioned in reviews not just the most specific location


Contents of this path: