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Book covers and movie posters

For the experimental bibliographic description, I think I’m going to imagine what a modern cover for The Unfortunate Union would look like. I’m still on the look-out for a painting that would fit the novel perfectly. A Penguin Classics-esque cover is what I have in mind, akin to the cover of our version of Daisy Miller. I also looked online and found out that Daisy Miller was adapted into a movie in 1974. I compared both the cover of the novel and the poster of the movie and saw some similarities such as the posture and facial expressions of Daisy Miller, but saw some stark differences such as amount of text and information given. Apart from the image, the movie poster actually looks more like the novel cover pages that we’ve been looking at over the course of the semester. So, I think I’m going to 1) Create a cover of a modern version of The Unfortunate Union, and 2) Create a poster for a modern movie adaptation of the same. I might also make a poster of an adaptation made in the 1970’s instead of today.

I’m also playing with the idea of making a short movie about the novel, but I’m not sure if it’s feasible to do so in such a short time frame.

Assignment 6

One thing I learned from the publication date bar graph is that most of the novels in the collection were published after 1740. This could be because either more novels were published after that date or because fewer of the novels published before 1740 were collected. The narrative form pie chart was also really interesting. The top three forms seem to be “third person”, “epistolary", and “first person”. This suggests that the epistolary form was popular, as was suggested before in previous exercises.

After that, I used a word cloud to look at the titles of the novels. Frequent words seem to be “adventures”, “history”, “volumes”, “Miss”, “Lady”, “Written”, “Memoirs”, “Vol”, “Edition”, “Life”, “Spy" and “Travels”. The words “Miss” and “Lady” suggest a female protagonist, while the words “history”, “life”, and “memoirs” suggest that the novel focuses on the protagonist’s private life. It would be unsurprising if these latter words were also associated with a female protagonist, as one of the popular novel forms seen so far seems to be about a lady’s inner or private life or thoughts. Back to the list of frequent words, the word “written” is rather interesting. One thing it could mean is that author anonymity is becoming less and less frequent. It could mean instead that the title page insists the novel is written by the protagonist, or that the novel is written by a lady (who may remain unnamed). It would be interesting to go back and look whether the word “written” corresponds to a named author or an anonymous one. One of the words that surprised me was “spy”, as it doesn’t seem suited to an epistolary novel or necessarily to an adventure novel. It could be that novels about spies are also becoming popular, although I don’t think it’s a subject/genre we’ve really looked at before.

The French Adventure Travel World History Tale of Mr. Don Lady Character

Visualizing this metadata is super exciting — it seems like there are huge comparative possibilities here, in terms of working with a giant set of information about early novels. Having explored the END website, the existing data visualizations, such as the publisher network, seem like excellent uses of the data, and it also looks like you could combine all of the categories in a staggering variety of permutations to ask and work towards answers of many different research questions. While playing with the data — specifically, visualizing formats with a pie chart — what became fascinating to me was the way in which the metadata draws together a huge variety of literary critical questions about material conditions of publication, reception history, authorial intent, generic categorization and formal analysis. The metadata collected brings up all of these questions for me: what kind of constraints or possibilities were authors working with as they wrote their books for publication, how might material conditions come to bear upon the texts themselves, what do we make of the commonality of certain words in titles, and on and on.

Considering larger things about visualizing and analyzing metadata, I think Ramsay’s article is quite helpful here — I was initially caught up by the fact that this is a small selection of an incomplete set of data (incomplete because we don’t know how many novels/have access to every novel printed, read, etc. in the eighteenth century, for instance) and that drawing conclusions (after properly calculating statistical significance) wouldn’t be possible since this isn’t a random sample or a full set of data. But Ramsay’s point, that our interest as literary critics is not to prove things 100% and rather to open up interesting possibilities and questions, and that digital approaches to texts can assist mightily with this endeavor, clarifies that this is not as big of a problem and doesn’t prevent us from generating criticism, asking/beginning to answer fascinating questions about texts, having new conversations about books, etc.

What specifically excites me is the way in which the metadata provides a way in which to engage with my interest in genres. To pick just one question I thought of while looking at the data — making a word cloud of the TitleNouns category specifically — I’d really like to compare the information from the title pages in order to see if generic assumptions can be supported or challenged with this information (as Ramsay does with the arguments about gender in the criticism surrounding Woolf’s To the Lighthouse). Based on that title information, one might be able to question whether our generic categories are broad or varied or specific enough to actually enhance our understanding of novels, and from there work towards an understanding of one specific dynamic of the relationship between literary and material form.

Assignment 6: Metadata

The metadata allows us to better understand the details of the literary trend from 1770 to 1779. I wanted a visual of where most publishers congregated and was a little surprised as to the locations. The map of the publishing locations shows that most publishers resided in major cities such as Boston, Dublin, and London. A few publishers were from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge, and Bath. It makes sense that there were many publishers in Dublin, as the city is a port and a centralized location in United Kingdom (making it easier to transport the books to the rest of the country). It also makes sense that London had many publishers, as London was the capital and close to the southern ports where the books could be shipped internationally. The same logic goes for Boston. However, I am surprised that some publishers resided in Bath, Cambridge, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Oxford. In my opinion, Manchester or Liverpool would have been a better choice than those place, as their locations are excellent for a more efficient distribution system of books. I would attribute their choice of location as to having to do with less business competition, as otherwise it would be an illogical choice in terms of having an efficient business. I do note that the metadata only accounts for a fraction of the novels published, indicating that the sample size is not sufficient for me to make firm conclusions.

On the jasondavies website, I initially made a map cloud of the narrative forms, expecting the top narrative forms to be in third person, first person, and epistolary. I was a little bit surprised that the third most popular narrative form was dramatic dialogue, as I expected that narrative form to be have been more popular in the 17th century. This word cloud did little justice to enhance my understanding of this literary period. So I proceeded to make a word cloud of “Title Nouns”. The most common title nouns were “Adventure”, “Memoir”, “History”, “Volume”, “Manner”, and “Letter”. All these title nouns made sense to me. Many of the male authors in the 18th century wrote about adventures, “embracing” their “masculinity”. Older authors tended to write memoirs, commemorating their lives and trying to justified that they had led fulfilling lives. As for “Volume”, we know that publishers tended to publish books in two or three volumes to increase profit and distribute easier. Lastly, “Manner” and “Letter” were consistent in respect to the epistolary form and the idea of virtue present in 18th century novels. Therefore, this word cloud reinforced my understanding of the 18th century literary period.

Metadata is like... soooo meta

I think exercise 6 was my favorite exercise yet. Despite its limitations, I think Google FusionTables does things it’s supposed to pretty well.

Regarding the PubLocation, I noticed that for the first time, we saw an American publishing location! Maybe. Maybe we’ve seen New York before, or talked about it, but this is the first time I’ve seen/remembered an American publisher making it into our datasets. And I’m not surprised at all that Cambridge is the first one to pop up; isn’t it their thing to pretentiously brag about how they were the first at everything?

In all seriousness, I really enjoyed studying the heat map of the title locations mentioned in this corpus. I started to get a sneaking suspicion that the map of what locations were being mentioned in this particular map were all parts of the British empire at the time, and Google tells me that I was kind of sort of right! Compare the heat map in this post with the map of the 18th century British empire and see for yourself:

I guess it could be explained by the fact that early novelists either traveled to or heard a lot about other places in the empire, far more than they heard about places that weren’t British territory. I know as a writer I often subconsciously draw on the things or experiences I hear most often, so it makes sense that British authors would mention British-controlled places the most frequently.

Regarding the bar graphs: I decided to filter PubDate by VolumeStatement, and found that an increase in the number of volumes spiked in parallel with the overall proliferation of novels that peaked in about 1769. After that date, though, it looks like the number of novels published overall decreases faster than the average number of volumes. Maybe publishers realized they could make more money if they printed books in more volumes?

Funny note on the narrative form pie chart: Mine said that the form “4” comprised five percent of the Early Novels Database. Am I completely unaware of a secret narrative form that I’m just being exposed to through this exercise? Probably not. It’s probably an error. But it’s still funny.

Regarding the word cloud exercise: I used Excel’s Find and Replace function and it worked just fine for me, no TextWrangler needed. I also removed the words “first”, “second”, and “third”, as well as “two”, “three”, and “four”, because they were boring. (Sorry, number enthusiasts.) What was left behind was pretty interesting: the new most frequent words included “entertaining”, “original”, “young”, “curious”, “great”, “secret”, “real”, “moral,” and “curious”. I guess novelists were really concerned with making sure readers knew their works were going to be fresh-faced and spunky before they actually sat down to read them.

Overall, I really like FusionTables, and I think it’s a powerful tool for low-level data analysis. If you want to do anything more strenuous, you can always switch over to Stata or RStudio, so I don’t really mind how lightweight it is, and I wouldn’t really want it to have more firepower if the option was available. It’s just accessible enough and user-friendly enough that anyone can create pretty neat observations fairly quickly.

I wonder what would happen if we put the END into Stata?

Bibliography Overload

The amount of data and information included in this assignment was absolutely massive! Sometimes I felt overwhelmed by all the texts, data, and information provided in Garside’s introduction.

A major trend I noticed in just the bibliography was the way that the title, author, and content of the work appeared to influence the way that critics would read and subsequently review a book. It felt like many of the reviews of novels published anonymously, by women, or containing content that occupied a feminine sphere (such as the memoirs of older women or the histories/letters of younger women) were held to a different standard than those published by men or about men. This is clearly evidenced in the comments on the anonymous “The Wedding Ring; or the History of Miss Sidney”, in which CR refers to something called “…the female library.” Thus, it sort of feels like anything related to the feminine sphere is being relegated or written off as “other” or atypical in some way, which supports Armstrong’s claim that the separation of gender spheres in domestic fiction contributed to the rise of the individual subjectivity. In other words, this “female library” may be abnormal, but it may be on to something, and the critics don’t really know how to handle it.

It’s also worth noting that a work by the famous Voltaire is included in this bibliography, and the comments on his work are particularly of note. In essence, the comments on “Young James Or the Sage and the Atheist” boil down to something along the lines of: “Oh yeah, it’s Voltaire. Of course this is a good book,” whereas many of the other authors discussed in the bibliography are subject to a pretty thorough critique of even the minor characters in their work (like the Captain in Evelina. It appears that at least in the literary/scholarly world, your name can still carry some weight when it comes to critical reception of your early novel.

The five early novels I chose to compare were: Clara Reeve’s The champion of virtue. A Gothic story. By the editor of The Phonix. A translation of Barclay's Argenis, Voltaire’s Young James or the sage and the atheist. An English story. From the French of M. de Voltaire, Louisa Wharton’s Louisa Wharton. A story founded on facts: written by herself, in a series of letters to a friend. Wherein is Displayed Some particular ... and so on, Sutton-Abbey. A novel. In a series of letters, founded on facts, and Evelina.

When comparing these five early novels, the most noticeable difference between Evelina and the other novels I selected was the fact that Evelina was the only one out of the five that did not claim to be fiction or a story in any way on its title page. Young James is a “story”, and so are Louisa Wharton and “The champion of virtue.” Sutton-Abbey is the only one of the five to claim itself as a novel on the title page, but in the preface argues that it was “…not intended for publication.” Whether this claim is merely to convince readers that this is somehow a more authentic narrative or that it really was never meant to be printed lies beyond the scope of the exercise at hand. Regardless, the main conclusion that I drew from this discrepancy is that by not claiming to be a fictionalized story or a novel in any way on the title page, Evelina is actually succeeding the most at being exactly that: a fictionalized story AND a novel. This is evidenced by the generally favorable comments included in the bibliography, which stand in stark contrast to those of Sutton-Abbey, which gets called nothing more than second-rate. So, is the trick to being a popular 18th-century novel to be a “hipster novel”, by keeping silent about your novel-ness and allowing others to marvel at your talents? Maybe.

Moving on to Artemis: Just for funsies, I tried to search the time period 1760-1800 with the “Novel” filter under document type and got no results back. Does that mean Artemis doesn’t recognize any 18th century works as novels? I don’t know the answer. I might have just formatted it wrong, but it’s a question worth investigating in the future.

When I did get some results using the normal search methods, I was fascinated at the results of both data visualization tools. I saw that a spoke in the metaphorical wheel of words and connections was “Author”, but the only names underneath those spokes were female names; actually, “Ladies” was a major subcategory of the spoke “Author”. Again, I think that says a lot about the relationship between the feminine sphere and the rise of the individual subjectivity and its primacy in the early novel, as argued by Armstrong. Another piece of data that supports her claim is the fact that one of the subcategories of “Lady” is “Facts”, suggesting that those two are deeply related in some way.

For my term frequency graph, I plotted a few different terms together and got something pretty neat back. By including “novel”, “story”, “life”, “letters”, and “lady” together on the same graph, it’s easy to see that all of these terms are closely related in some way. All of these words show a pretty steady increase as the 18th century draws to a close, signaling what could be interpreted as the beginning of the rise of the novel as a major player on the literary scene, and that “life” is an essential part of the “story” that “novel”s are trying to tell. Also, more so than any other two terms, “letters” and “lady” follow each other so closely that it’s hard to tell which line is which at some points in the graph. Essentially, this tells us that if there’s going to be the mention of a lady in an early novel, it’s probably because it’s an epistolary novel and a lady is the one writing it. And in this way, we can also speculate that the rise of “lady” and “letters” directly relate to the overall rise of just the novel in general.

Excel is Useful, Sometimes.

I’ve attached a photo of a little graph I made in Excel to this post; if anyone wants to learn how to make it, just find me in class/around campus and I can show you! It’s pretty easy.

This is a visual representation of the clusters of words I pulled out of my word cloud that I referenced in my last blog post. It compares some of the most frequently used words to the overall number of words used in the novel. As you can see, these 11 words account for almost 25% of all words in the novel!

Lies and Feelings, as Told by Pamela.

First and foremost, I really enjoyed this assignment, and I’d be interested in doing this sort of textual analysis on other novels. Is there a way to get clean versions of other novels? I was thinking of doing this with Americanah.

One of my most interesting findings occurred when I was looking at my word cloud, after using the standard list of English stopwords and then adding my own to the list. I also removed mrs, said, went, quite, shall, sir, dear, and mr from my word cloud. And when I looked at what was left behind, I noticed that the top words fell into a few distinct clusters that I could recognize. The first of these clusters was the group good, poor, lady, little and Pamela. When taken into consideration together as some of the most frequent words in the novel, it raises questions about how the novel is attempting to get us to look at Pamela as a character, as a person, and as a woman. In a sense, the high frequency of these words, often used together, is priming us as readers to think of Pamela as a tiny, poor, virtuous woman throughout the novel. It is not enough to just mention “poor Pamela” once or twice; it happens all the time. The repetition of these words throughout the novel may be, on an almost subconscious level, informing our perceptions of Pamela and of female characters and of female subjectivities in the novel in general without us even realizing it. Another cluster of words I noticed were the words “think, thought, know, and say”. The high frequency of these words helps to show how Pamela is truly an early novel form, and not something else. In Pamela, the primary method of characterization is through what the characters say, think, feel, and do, not necessarily (but sometimes) the societal forces being pressed upon them. It may be possible to conclude that the heavy use of these words is helping to form the idea that characters should, and indeed often do, have individual thoughts, feelings, and subjectivities that make them who they are.

Another interesting thing that I found was during the part of the exercise where we explored the frequency of given words throughout the novel as a whole, in a sort of “chronological” sense. I noticed that the word “Honesty” is used semi-frequently throughout the first half of the novel, but then its use drops off almost completely in the second half. Is this because Pamela no longer feels the need to assert her honesty (often in reference to her Virture), or is it because Pamela is becoming less of an honest character as the novel continues? And what does that say about her reliability as a narrator? All questions I still have after this exercise.

Small bug note: if I wanted to compare relative frequencies of two words that were not on the same page (like page 3/14 for the list of frequencies), I had trouble getting both of them to show up on the graph.

Assignment 3: Dialogue, Silence, and Writing

When I first glanced at the word cloud, I saw that the most frequent words were pretty generic and weren't really surprising. This included words like "and", "you", "the", "my", "me", "to", "he", "of", "said", "a", "so". The frequency of "me" and "my" do show the importance of the first person (and Pamela's voice) in this novel, but that's already known because Pamela is, after all, a series of letters. The word "said" might be the most interesting out of this generic list, showing the frequency of dialogue (or references to dialogue). A great part of the letters consists of Pamela's account of the events that occurred and her interactions with other people. I decided to compare the occurrence of this word with the occurrence of the word silent (somewhat its opposite).

While "said" is used quite frequently in the novel, neither "silent" nor its variations seem to appear at all. I find this very interesting. It seems the narrator doesn't think silence important enough to mention. In a way, there is always something being said, even if there aren't any characters speaking at the moment. As Pamela writes, she is speaking to the reader--there is no silence anywhere.

I then decided to compare "said" to "write", as writing plays a significant role in the novel as well. The graph is included in the post.

Surprisingly, the word "write" and its variations did not appear very frequently in the novel, at least when compared to "said". More attention seems to be focused on the dialogue, but I thought writing would be important enough to appear more frequently.

Assignment 1: Locations on the World Map

I marked as many of the locations mentioned in the book as I possibly could.

Assignment 1: Locations on the World Map

I marked as many of the locations mentioned in the book as I possibly could. Enjoy!