Click here to view the TimeMap in a new, fullscreen tab. 

This map presents a geographic representation of over 500 comedy stories, faux- articles and pieces written by Amherst students.

When using the TimeMap, keep in mind that this not an all-encompassing representation of every comedy piece written by Amherst students. It only contains articles from publications dedicated to comedy that are collected in the Amherst Special Collections Archives. For example, pieces from literature magazines or the April Fools issues of the Amherst Student are not available on the map. In order to be mapped, an article had to have an individual title and body text, as well as either a real-world location or fictional setting with physical world counterpart. For this reason, there are very few articles from early publications, which published mostly untitled proverbs and short witticisms.

Locations were derived from a variety of criteria. Some articles referred to a news story location in their bylines (see many of the Muck Rake pieces). Others were centered around a certain building or city (“Appleton Cabinet”) If an article referred to a specific figure from popular culture, their hometown was mapped (“Where the Sidewalk Ended”). Shows, movies and music were mapped to their fictional setting (“‘Be the Ball’: Dynamics of Being and Non-being in Caddyshack”),¬† and their filming location if a setting was not specified (“Melrose Place Bingo”). Articles with more than one primary location have multiple pins.

Similarly, each article is classified into a tag, with some articles entered as duplicate entries to occupy multiple tabs. The tags can be broken into two categories:

  1. Inward Looking: Articles that deal primarily with the Amherst College Experience.
    • Academia: Pieces that deal with the experience of academia at Amherst, such as papers or professors.
    • Administration: Pieces that discuss or satirize the board of trustees, administration or other staff and faculty. Also includes school history.
    • Student Life: Pieces that center on the day-to-day life of students at Amherst, ranging from sports teams to club groups, frats to festivals.
  2. Outward Looking: Articles that focus on events outside of Amherst College.
    • Politics: Pieces that deal with modern politics, policies and figures.
    • Pop Culture: Pieces that refer to elements of pop culture like movies, television or music. Also includes news events that are not political in nature.

Navigating the TimeMap can be tricky. Here are some tips for a more pleasurable experience:

  • You can click on entries in both the timeline and on the map to see a short summary or excerpt.
  • You can navigate both the timeline and map by clicking and dragging
  • It is recommended to zoom out as the embedded TimeMapper loads the earliest entry. Comedy publications are irregular and sporadic until the 1980s, so you will see a large amount of empty space unless you do. As you approach the 2000s, it is best to zoom in as publications switch to frequent daily updates.
  • Likewise, you can zoom in and out on the map using the plus and minus symbols in the corner of the map. Zoom in on the Amherst campus to see articles written about individual buildings.
  • The darker the shadow behind a pin, the more articles that reference the location.
  • Entries for the online Muck Rake include links to the individual article, for your entertainment.

If you are interested in using the data from this project, use this link to download the spreadsheet from our Google Drive.

After you have explored the TimeMap, click here to see the stats.


Campus Comedy | Overview of Comedy Publications | The TimeMap  | Trends

Project by William Harvey ’18