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Garrett Bolin
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Exercise 8

2 min read

I’d like to explore the relationship between the most prominent topics within a corpus of novels and some pieces of metadata that may correlate to the novel’s availability to different socioeconomic strata of readers in order to see if we can track any changes in these factors along with the assertions of Ian Watt in “The Rise of the Novel,” namely that the novel was born alongside (and helped to create / propagate) the burgeoning middle class created by modern capitalistic systems. The metadata that I would look at would be:

  • price of the volume (can we find any correlations between the supposed content of the novels as revealed by topic modeling? do these prices change in subsequent republishing? when is the price included in the paratext?)
  • place of publication (what kinds of novels were published in Dublin as opposed to London as opposed to Philadelphia? how do these reflect the state of the middle class in each respective area?)
  • year (does the novel become reflect more middle class values as it ages?)

I would group the novels by these divisions of metadata (e.g. all the novels that cost 2-3 shillings or were published in Dublin from 1775 to 1780) and use topic modeling to see if I could find any reflection of these factors in its most prominent topics.

Experimental Bibliography

2 min read

As I skimmed Anonymous’s The Indian Adventurer: History of Mr. Vanneck and found what little critical writing I could, I was surprised to learn that it was published just before a “crackdown on sexually graphic material” in 1787 (Malhotra, Ashok, Making British Indian Fictions 152). As such, being the sensational novel about an intensely horny foreigner that it is, it is at times pretty racy. Although some of the content we’ve read has been sexual in nature, it seems to me that the representation of sex acts is more-often-than-not something to be alluded to rather than explicitly stated. The Indian Adventurer, standing in opposition, is at times almost downright nasty. I wondered while I read what this novel would reflect if placed in conversation with a more modern medium.

The narrator, although he begins his story as an almost-successful German surgeon, he ends up flunking out of med school because of too much partying, and joins the Dutch East India Company and gets shipped off to several “oriental” cities: Delhi, Patna, Calcutta, and Cossimbuzzar. As such, he becomes wrapped up in the proto-English imperial project, and although he is sometimes visibly altruistic (he begins offering free health care to the cities’ impoverished citizens), he remains an extension of the corporate colonisation of South Asia. As with the sexual aspects of the work, I wondered what we could glean from juxtaposing the text with a representation of contemporary imperialism.

The final aspect I’d like to investigate is the religious tinge to the work. Although our unnamed narrator finds a humble nobility in the Brahmins of the region (much reminiscent of popular representations of the American Indian), he subtly denigrates their religion as well as Protestantism’s main rival: Catholicism (see Malhotra (it’s really good)). I’d like to explore the oriental approach to religion as well as its attachment to rising nationalistic sentiment. My plan is to put these three thematic topics in conversation with a more modern manifestation of themselves, through a collage of commercials, films, and television.

Topic Modeling

2 min read

This was a pretty entrancing process and reminded me a lot of the Dadaist / Burroughsian "cut-up method," in which a text is dissembled and rearranged, usually randomly, to create a new text. It struck me that we were doing something similar only instead of using newspaper clippings or randomly picked words, we're using a corpus of 1760's novels, and instead of scissors, we're using the topic modeling tool. I realize that the end goal of topic modeling is to learn something about the corpus or about traits of the English novel of this time period, but I think it may prove instructive (or fun, at least) to view some of these "bags of words" as poem-like texts in and of themselves. I've constructed a few of them stanzaically (sorry for using this "word;" it's the best I got) and naming them.

House of Three by 10 topics, 200 iterations, 10 words Mr. time told great house Found gentleman Lady day mother

Q&A by 10 topics, 200 iterations, 10 words Miss Madam? Mr. Man Dear Lady? Good Sir Charles?

English England People by 50 topics, 1000 iterations, 20 words English England people resolved war country power Parliament made men great London forces victory

This last one, from 5 topics, 200 iterations, 5 words, doesn't quite work as a poem, but I love it as a title. Imagine hearing, "How are you today, 'Mr. Good-Lady-Time, sir?'"

Maybe this approach doesn't hold much water formally or academically, but personally I felt like once I pretended that these jumbled up assortments of topic words were cohesive, intentional texts, it grounded them in my mind as things that are actually saying something. By imagining them as poems based around a theme (i.e. a topic), I was better able to interpret them and then broadly apply this interpretation to the corpus.

Descriptive Bibliography

1 min read

Anonymous. The Indian Adventurer; or History of Mr. Vanneck, a Novel, Founded on Facts. London: Printed for W. Wane, No. 33, Leadenball Street. M DCC LXXX, 17880.

THE | INDIAN ADVENTURER; | OR | HISTORY | OF | Mr. VANNECK, | NOVEL, FOUNDED on FACTS. | (Horizontal line) | LONDON: | Printed for W. LANE, No. 33, Leadengall-Street. M DCC LXXX.

Collation

12mo. A2, B-F6, G7, H-M6, N7, O-X6.

Contents

A1r: Title. A1v: Half-title. X6v: Explanation of the Names used in the East Indies, and mentioned in this Work.

Pagination

237p.

Notes

Published anonymously. Sourced from British Library. Identical stamps on U5v and X6v that say "British Museum 6 0083". Ten chapters. There are fourteen leaves in the G and N gatherings due to an extra N1 and an extra G3. There are only eleven leaves in R, S, and K. I3 appears after K2r. [Page #] until pp. 192 and also 199, 217, 208, 212, 222, 225, 227-228, 230. (Page #) for 193-195, 197, 207, 200-205, 209-211, 213-216, 218-221, 223-224, 226, 229, 231-232, 234, 236-237. [Page #) for 196, 206, and 233. Missing pp. 198.

Exercise 6

2 min read

Personally, I found it difficult to glean many substantial claims from the bar graph and pie chart visualizations beyond obvious interpretations such as “Third person, epistolary, and third person / first person hybrids were the dominant narrative forms in novels in the late 18th century” and “Novelists reached their productive peak in 1769, followed by a decline over the next decade.” However, when I got to the final step featuring the ever-handy word cloud, I found something I thought was pretty interesting. As an input I used “TitleVerbs,” and the top three words were “write,” “translate,” “contain,” and “publish.” I wasn’t sure what to make of “contain,” but I found it crazy that the most popular words in the titles of novels are words that call attention to three very different spheres of craft in fiction and receive almost equal weight in the visualization. This echoes something that I’ve been noticing in the novels we’ve looked at, especially the paratext; through our postmodern, auteur theory tinted lenses, we tend to put the author of a work on a pedestal as the end-all-be-all fountainhead of creative direction, but it seems like at the birth of the novel, other jobs were also publicly praised and respected. I would also add “critique” to the list if I were that word cloud because as I explored in my entry for Exercise 5, it seems like the London literary critics of that time held great sway over public opinion and the fate of a novel. Translators are given a lot of praise in several of these works, even on the title page, and publishers are consistently written to and about and referenced to a degree that shocked me when I came into this class. I’m so used to the publishers and translators being less than an afterthought - just fine print. However, looking back on a time when the publishing of novels was viewed as a more collaborative endeavor can teach us many things about the state of the literary world today.

Exercise 5

5 min read

Part 1

As I read through the entries, I was struck by how many of the titles alluded to other countries, international travel, and translation. I took note of sixteen titles which blatantly mentioned countries or regions outside of England or languages other than English. For the most part, these fell within two narrative categories: stories about an English person traveling to an underdeveloped or unfamiliar region as in:

1778: 7 - ANON, THE TRAVELS OF HILDEBRAND BOWMAN, ESQUIRE, INTO CARNOVIRRIA, TAUPINIERA, OLFACTARIA, AND AUDINANTE, IN NEW ZEALAND. IN THE ISLAND OF BOHMOMMICA, AND IN THE POWERFUL KINGDOM OF LUXO-VOLUPTO, ON THE GREAT SOUTHERN CONTINENT. WRITTEN BY HIMSELF; WHO WENT ON SHORE IN THE ADVENTURE’S LARGE CUTTER AT QUEEN CHARLOTTE’S SOUND NEW ZEALAND, THE FATAL 17TH OF DECEMBER 1773, AND ESCAPED BEING CUT OFF, AND DEVOURED, WITH THE REST OF THE BOAT’S CREW, BY HAPPENING TO BE A-SHOOTING IN THE WOODS; WHERE HE WAS AFTERWARDS, UNFORTUNATELY LEFT BEHIND BY THE ADVENTURE)

1778: 8 - ANON, A TRIP TO MELASGE; OR, CONCISE INSTRUCTIONS TO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN ENTERING INTO LIFE WITH HIS OBSERVATIONS ON THE GENIUS, MANNERS, TON, OPINIONS, PHILOSOPHY, AND MORALS, OF THE MELASGENS

also published as THE SENTIMENTAL TRAVELLER, OR A DESCRIPTIVE TOUR THROUGH LIFE, FIGURATIVELY AS A TRIP TO MELASGE, IN WHICH IS INCLUDED THE ADVENTURES OF A GENTLEMAN IN THE EAST-INDIES: THE WHOLE FORMING A SYSTEM OF EDUCATION WITH INSTRUCTIONS TO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN, ENTERING INTO LIFE. IN TWO VOLUMES.

1780: 6 - ANON, THE INDIAN ADVENTURER; OR THE HISTORY OF MR. VANNECK, A NOVEL, FOUNDED ON FACTS

...or stories set in a more “developed” country such as Germany or France (I got a feeling from this that lots of English were Francophiles) as in:

1779: 10 GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von; MALTHUS, Daniel or GRAVES, Richard? (trans.)., THE SORROWS OF WERTER: A GERMAN STORY

1779: 16 - PIDANSAT DE MAIROBERT, Mathieu-Francois, LETTERS TO AND FROM THE COUNTESS DU BARRY, THE LAST MISTRESS OF LEWIS XV, OF FRANCE; CONTAINING HER CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE PRINCES OF THE BLOOD, MINISTERS OF STATE, AND OTHERS: INCLUDING THE HISTORY OF THAT FAVOURITE, AND SEVERAL CURIOUS ANECDOTES OF THE COURT OF VERSAILLES DURING THE LAST YEARS OF THAT REIGN. WITH EXPLANATORY NOTES. TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH.

1780: 22 - PORNEY, Mr. (trans.), A NEW AND COMPLETE COLLECTION OF INTERESTING ROMANCES AND NOVELS; TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY MR. PORNEY, TEACHER OF THE FRENCH LANGUAGE AT RICHMOND, SURRY, DESIGNED FOR INSTRUCTION AS WELL AS ENTERTAINMENT, BEING CALCULATED TO CONVEY A GENERAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD; AND CONSISTING OF THE MOST VALUABLE AND IMPORTANT ROMANCES, NOVELS, FABLES, ALLEGORIES, MEMOIRS, ADVENTURES, HISTORIES, ANECDOTES, &C. NOT TO BE FOUND IN ANY OTHER WORK WHATEVER IN ENGLISH. EMBELLISHED WITH AN ELEGANT SET OF COPPER-PLATE PRINTS. DESIGNED BY THE CELEBRATED MR. DODD AND THE INGENIOUS MR. DIGHTON, AND ENGRAVED IN A SUPERIOR STYLE OF EXCELLENCE BY THOSE EMINENT ARTISTS, MESSRS. WELLS, HOW, AND MEARS - THE IMPRESSIONS OF WHICH BEING ALL EXCEEDINGLY FINE, AND EXECUTED IN THE BEST MANNER ON FRENCH PAPER[^1].

Because the novel was increasingly becoming a literary form that belonged to the growing middle class who couldn’t afford to travel abroad, it makes sense that distant lands would be emphasized. I imagine it provided for a kind of vicarious exploration for those who could afford to rent a book but not a boat.

[^1]This one is my favorite. I get the feeling that lots of English folks were pretty Francophilic.

Part 2

In addition to the digital image of the 1779 edition of Evelina, I chose to take a closer look at The Travels of Hildebrand Bowman (1778), A trip to Melasge (1778), and A New and Complete Collection of Interesting Romances and Novels (translated from the French). In so doing, I noticed that something about Evelina that I thought was pretty weird actually seemed to be common: the preface directed at literary critics. Hildebrand Brown and A Trip to Melasge also included very similar dedications, in which the authors sucked up to the critics big time. Hildebrand Brown goes so far as to call them “the best judges of the veracity” of literary works. At the end of each preface, the books invariably conclude with

                            ##Gentlemen, 
                       ##Your most devoted, 
                               ##humble Servant,

Although today most authors prefer to write without thinking about the critics, the amount of ass-kissing these authors did for them shows what a force popular criticism was in the London literary scene.

Part 3

Artemis’s term clusters allowed me to see that the novel was highly associated with youth in the late 18th century. “Young” appears under “Epistolary Novels” and “History” along with “Young Lady” under “Lady.” We can also see, using Artemis’s term frequency tool, that use of “young” and “youth” became increasingly popular between 1770 and 1800 and, by the last few years of that period, was being used in between 200 and 300 works per year. This reminds me of our protagonist Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey and the popular cliche of the nerdy kid (who we probably all were) who constantly devours novels. Perhaps this association forbade the novel from gaining literary legitimacy on par with other forms for so long; it was a medium for children.

Poor Pamela

2 min read

I spent a while sifting through different words and comparing their uses throughout the book, and Voyant was a fantastic tool for this kind of study. I especially valued the "Keywords in Context" tool at the bottom right of the screen which showed a few words before and after the keyword. This made comparing the linguistic usage of the words much quicker and more efficient. Out of all the words I looked at, the one that stuck out to me the most was "poor," used 534 times.

The first thing that I noticed about the usage of "poor" is that Richardson uses it gradually less frequently throughout the course of the novel. The word trend graph I've included illustrates this. However, as you'll notice, there's a slight spike towards the end of the novel. As I explored the uses of the word in different sections of the book, I discovered that towards the beginning, Pamela is constantly describing herself and her parents (even when she is speaking to them directly) as poor. Over and over again, she reiterates how poor they are and how low her station of life is. As she begins to be ingratiated into a higher socioeconomic ring through her entangling with Mr. B, she begins to describe herself as poor less often and begins using "poor" to describe other things, such as an emotional state or simply referring to others as poor. For example, in the last letter, she describes a situation in which "several poor people begged my charity, and I beckoned John with my fan, and said, Divide in the further church-porch, that money to the poor, and let them come to-morrow morning to me, and I will give them something more, if they don't importune me now." Later, in the epilogue type thing that sums up why Pamela is an excellent example to follow, Richardson declares that "her diffusive charity to the poor" (inherently saying that this is a group which she is not a part of...anymore) has "made her blessed." I found it strange that Pamela was so ready to stop associating herself with poverty when offered a way out of it, especially considered how ingrained it was in her identity towards the beginning.

Exercise3

Mapping Colonialism

2 min read

As I look at my MyMap, the association that immediately jumped into my mind was that of the system of Triangular Trade that sustained the exchange of goods and slaves between European countries, their colonies in the Americas and the Caribbean Islands, and West Africa. RC spends the vast majority of his time on the integral coasts of this system, and as this route must have been familiar to Daniel Defoe and his fellow Englishmen and going off Wednesday’s discussion, I feel as though we must read this choice as inherently tied to the burgeoning colonialism of the young English Empire. Obviously a colonial state of mind makes itself apparent throughout much of RC, particularly in Crusoe’s view of himself and his role on the island (referring to himself as “king,” “owner,” “governor,” etc.) and his relationship with Friday, whom he takes ownership of and exerts imperialistic control over in his forcing of Christianity and the English language upon him, but in this mapping exercise it also occurred to me that to the middle-class English reader of the late 18th century, the locations and routes in the book alone would be enough to call forth the idea of English colonial conquest, although whether it takes a stance for or against it is a much more complicated matter.

Assignment2

As a first-time user of the NER and someone completely unacquainted with the process(es) of digital data-mining of literature, this was a tedious but ultimately fascinating endeavor. The thing that caught my eye right off the bat was the disparity between the lengths of my PERSON and LOCATION lists, the latter being much longer and more varied than the former. The novel, as we’ve come to know it, is typically a very personal and social work. We usually come to know at least a few characters personally, and personal relations are often the driving force of the narrative. In Robinson Crusoe, this is certainly not the case. There are so many locations ( listed and described in much detail in the novel itself, and its driving force is the relationship between our protagonist and his environs rather than our protagonist and the people he interacts with, which I took as confirmation of my immediate feeling that Defoe’s tale is a rather antisocial or introspective one. I also found that these data echoed our class discussion about how the early novel may have found a role in sating the burgeoning middle class’s desire for travel and worldly excitement.