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Europe #1?

2 min read

Considering that many of the texts we’ve read were originally published in 18th century England, it would be interesting to revisit Eurocentrism as a potential research topic. These 18th century novels seem to place an emphasis on European exceptionalism, primarily by glorifying European social and ideological customs. Since it might be hard to explore this Eurocentrism with the guidance of single question, I would probably turn to Ian Watt’s idea of formal realism. In the simplest of terms, Watt argues that the novel serves as a reflection of the individual human experience. Contextualizing this with the novels we’ve absorbed this semester, the human experience that Watt identifies seems to be a predominantly European one—specifically pertaining to England.

We discussed this concept briefly in our discussions of Robinson Crusoe, but I imagine it can be further contextualized by using the software from exercises 6 and 7. Using the available metadata, I would create a word cloud for the ‘TitlePlaces’ column and keep an eye out for European locations. I might also experiment with the ‘TitleNames’ and ‘TitleNouns’ categories to see if any results seem specific to Europe (European names, objects, etc.). Additionally, I would run digital facsimiles through the topic modeling software. I would probably use chunks from the novel to this, as that seemed to be the most effective method in exercise 7. After doing this, I’d pinpoint topics that evoke European social conventions, locations, and ideologies. Given the importance of location and setting in this proposed research project, I would also be enticed to input the results of the ‘TitlePlaces’ category into Google My Maps, which is similar to what we accomplished in exercise 2.

Exercise8