Skip to main content

Experimental Bibliography Plan

3 min read

Making my traditional bibliography for The History of Eliza Warwick, it seemed like a lot of the information expected in such a bibliography has a representative function, or else describes an anomaly. Representative information, that could tell us something about the work as a whole, like the title and publication date, and information about anomalies that you wouldn’t expect given only the representative information, such as ornaments or weird pagination, both make the cut. Some of the information that the highly codified form of the traditional bibliography demands, like pagination and collation, struck me as not particularly useful in representing the novel, instead simply uniting to say, “We are a book with pages.” On the other hand, information about plot and characters had no place in the traditional bibliography. How do you decide what information is representative, and what information is just incidental? Isn’t this distinction kind of arbitrary?

These questions remind me of Barthes’s claim that one can distinguish between details that are symbolic and details that serve no other purpose than to unite with other otherwise meaningless details to create reality effect. As a number of people pointed out in class, the distinction between Flaubert’s pyramid of boxes and his barometer seems arbitrary -- how does Barthes know the barometer isn’t a symbol? How can you tell what is reality effect, and what has a representative or symbolic purpose?

Just as the barometer might conceivably be an ignored symbol, might in fact want to convey a meaning other than “We are the real,” the many pieces of information left out of the traditional bibliography, judged not to be necessary for cataloguing the novel, might also relevant to its categorization. The traditional bibliography includes information about volumes, but not the sub-divisions within volumes. Eliza Warwick, an epistolary novel, is divided into letters, bracketed by salutations, valedictions, and the occasional postscript, but the traditional bibliography doesn’t capture that information. So, my experimental bibliography will.

I’m taking the formal components of the letters that make of Eliza Warwick -- salutations, valedictions, and postscripts -- and superimposing them onto barometers. For each component of the letter, the barometer’s arrow points to one thing: “We are the epistolary novel.” Except, the letters’ openings and signoffs signify more than just reality effect; signoffs like “Your affectionate friend, C. Huntley” also convey information about the main characters and their affect towards one another. My goal is twofold: to convey this information and to suggest that it, like the barometer that is measuring it and classifying it as reality effect, can’t be easily classified as either reality effect or representative, just as people in class felt that Barthes should not be so quick to dismiss Flaubert’s barometer as a symbol.

Exercise 7: Topic Modeling

4 min read

All the following topics are based on the whole corpus.

41 topics, 1000 iterations, 20 words printed per topic

Public Men Do Public Man Things: people power country laws state government law great liberty public men nation equally constitution present influence justice interest order private

Love Story: man woman good love make thought men women young world creature wife word poor find sex thing give don girl

50 topics, 500 iterations, 12 words printed per topic

Topic Modeling If Fo Fatiffying: fuch fo faid reverie fame moft fome thefe foon himfelf thing

Seventeen(sixty) Magazine: beauty lady fine eyes young fair beautiful air women eye dress appearance

50 topics, 500 iterations, 5 words printed per topic

Young Pickle!: peregrine pm gentleman young pickle

: man good make men give

Reading Tristram Shandy: tears heaven soul grief distress

80 topics, 1000 iterations, 12 words printed per topic

Putting the ‘List’ in ‘Orientalist’: japan taycho great dairo chinese empire orator cuboy farm people japonese fika

So Torrid: passion love heart lover mistress affection object sentiments tender tenderness soul loved

Authorial Modesty: author great genius learning learned read book works work poet books taste

I hoped that narrowing down the number of words per topic would yield more coherent topics, but I actually found that shorter topics were vaguer and more random-seeming, perhaps because by the time you are looking for the five words that are most likely to co-occur, you’re likely to get sort of generic, everyday words like “man good make men give” -- the ones I list above are the most coherent of the 5-word topics.

Armstrong claims that the transition from using the class system to using a person’s internal moral qualities as a measure of a person’s worth occurred through the novel, since the novel imbued the middle-class woman with individuated subjectivity. The topics that are explicitly gendered male seem to confirm her hypothesis, if we accept that in the 1760s, the part of the shift in which all middle-class people, including men, could be measured by their internal moral qualities had not yet happened. The topic Public Men Do Public Man Things lacks nouns that could be coded as having to do with the internal subjectivity of characters. We might infer that novels where that topic is prevalent conform more closely to an old model of fiction in which social stature determines worth, even if their particular ideas about the social order (liberty! equally!) are relatively modern.

However, Armstrong’s primary point, that the interiority of middle-class women began to matter in novels, is not precisely confirmed by the topics that are explicitly gendered female. The topic I called Seventeen(sixty) Magazine is representative of a number of topics which seem to be the “women’s novel” topic. Interestingly, while they certainly do not place emphasis on social class in the way that public, manly topics do, they also place no more emphasis on interior virtues. Rather, they bring to light a middle ground between the privacy of “essential qualities” and the publicly visible social order: physical appearance. The topic Seventeen(sixty) Magazine features appearance words laden with positive connotations, like beauty, fair, and young. It would be interesting to see whether, in novels where this topic is prevalent, female characters’ worth is defined more by their “essential qualities of mind” or their physical beauty.

The topics that reflect romance open up onto a number of questions about Armstrong’s thesis. So Torrid and Love Story, topics reflective of the romance genre, are composed of words that do explicitly refer to essential qualities of mind: good, love, passion, affection, tenderness, soul...According to topic modeling, it is in the romance genre that characters are most likely to be endowed with inner moral virtues. The romance, a particular type of domestic fiction, seems to match most closely with Armstrong’s argument. Do these (heterosexual) romances, which presumably demand both men and women main characters to function, imbue both their male and female characters with qualities of mind? Armstrong says that domestic novels “seized the authority to say what was female” -- were these feminized novels doing that through both male and female characters, or is it the feminized nature of the genre alone that allows Anderson to make that claim (468)?

*I’m not sure if it’s fair game to compare a topic chosen from a list of 50, generated through 500 iterations, and containing 12 words to topics chosen from a list of 41, generated through 1000 iterations, and containing 20 words. I think that the main thing that matters here is that they are all topics generated from the same corpus, groups of words that are likely to co-occur in that corpus, and that should make it acceptable to compare them???


Exercise 6: Metadata

4 min read

Exercise 6

Playing around with the metadata confirmed a trend we’ve talked about in class: Most of the novels in the corpus were published in London, with a smaller but significant percentage coming out of Dublin and the remainder scattered among other locations. Between 1700 and 1740, 94.9% of the novels in the sample were published in London, only 2.2% in Dublin, and none in other publishing cities such as Edinburgh or Bath. Meanwhile, in the second half of the sampled era, between 1740 and 1779, only 85.7% of the novels were published in London, with 12.3% in Dublin and small but notable percentages in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and a couple of other cities. I think it’s safe to say that this this trend speaks to the increasing popularity of novels outside of centers like London and the growing tradition of reprinting and pirating books. However, this sample of 855 novels is dubiously representative of All 18th Century Novels, and it seems possible that this trend and others speak just as much to idiosyncrasies and oversampling in this particular corpus as to actual patterns. Partly because of this, and because of the unwieldy and idiosyncratic nature of categories like TitleNouns and AuthorDates, I had trouble seeing the utility of the metadata and finding anything really exciting in it when playing around with Google Fusion.

The data, and the tools we have to analyze it, are somewhat limited. I thought it would be interesting to trace the prominence of particular types of paratext in conjunction with each other over time. Specifically, I wanted to see how often pieces of paratext coded as “Preface” and pieces of paratext coded as “To the reader” occurred in the same novel over time. Their co-occurrence might be a rough proxy for the amount of hedging, snark, and/or authorial self-abasement addressed to readers and editors. However, because all the types of paratext (preface, advertisement, errata, etc.) are lumped together in one column (paratextTitleControlled) charting the rise of a couple of individual types of paratext doesn’t seem to be possible. For instance, I would want a filter to pick up on Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa as having both a preface and a “To the reader” section, as the novel is described as having “Preface, Character information, To the reader, Errata.” But from what I can figure out, a Google Fusion bar chart of publication date, filtered by “Preface” and “To the reader” in the category paratextTitleControlled, would only show novels whose paratext has been coded in that order, leaving out novels whose paratext was coded in a different order. The search treats “Preface, Character information, To the reader, Errata” as a different value from “Preface, To the reader” rather than recognizing it as the combined occurrence of a preface AND a “To the reader” along with some other stuff (Errata and Character information) that’s irrelevant in my search.

To illustrate, Image 1 is a chart of paratext over time, filtered by “Preface, To the reader.”

Image 2 is a chart of paratext over time, filtered by “To the reader, Preface.” Even this chart -- the same two types of paratext, listed in a different order -- is totally different.

Notably, neither of the two charts above include Clarissa at all, since the filter can’t pick out the two types of paratext in the orders listed.

Similarly, it might be interesting to look at the volume and frequency of particular title nouns (or adjectives, but I was looking at nouns) over time. The word cloud I made (Image 3) points out which nouns occur most, as raw numbers, out of the whole corpus we have data on, but it doesn’t let you visualize changes over time. A bar chart would be more helpful for that, but again, if you wanted to look at, say, “French” and “amour” in conjunction over time to see what if anything you could learn about how novelists imagined the French, the filter would only be able to pick out titles where the coder had listed “French” and “amour” in the order you entered the terms into the filter.

The human arbitrariness of the way the novels were coded (e.g. some novels’ paratext includes “To the reader, Preface” while some includes “Preface, To the reader”), the way the categories are formatted, and the relative simplicity of Google fusion combine to make looking at how multiple values interact difficult. More sophisticated analysis tools, and a more sophisticated understanding of how to use them on my part, would let me get at more multidimensional ways that different values interact for the different categories of metadata.


Descriptive Bibliography: Eliza Warwick

2 min read

Traditional Bibliographic Description

Anonymous. The History of Eliza Warwick. Dublin: S. Price, W. Whitestone, R. Fitzsimmons, D. Chamberlaine, J. Sheppard, [and 17 others], 1778.

THE | HISTORY | OF | ELIZA WARWICK. | IN TWO VOLUMES. | --Vaulting Ambition, that o’erleaps itself, | And falls on t’other side.”-- | VOL. I | [2 x 30 mm ornament] | DUBLIN. | Printed for S. PRICE, W. WHITESTONE, R FITZ- | SIMMONS, D. CHAMBERLAINE, J. SHEPPARD, W. | SLEATER, T. WILKINSON, B. CORCORAN, R. | CROSS, J. HOEY, J. POTTS, J. WILLIAMS, W. | COLLES, G. BURNET, E. CROSS, R. MONCRIEFFE, | J. JENKIN, T. WALKER, T. Mc. DONELL, J. EX- | SHAW, J. BEATY, and J. MAGEE, 1778.


12mo. Vol I. B-L12 M8, 261 leaves, pp. v, vi-vii, 3-256. Vol II. A-I12 L6, 249 leaves, pp. 5, 6-251.


Vol. I: 1r half-title, 1v title, v, vi-vii dedication, B1 small title (not sure what the term is for the title-page-esque title and ornaments that sits over the text), B1-p. 256 (not sure how to mark this since the page is not signed) text. Vol II: 1r half-title, 1v title, A3 small title, A3-p. 251 (again, not sure how to mark this since the page is not signed) text.


Vol. I: p. 208 seal, p. 256: seal. Vol. II: p. 239 ornament.

What's Wrong With the Letter J?

I noticed that the signatures don't make use of the letter J, skipping straight from the I to the K signature. I did some googling and found this article which says, "Early modern books typically use a 23-letter alphabet, treating I/J as one letter, U/V as one letter, and omitting W." However, in the text of Eliza Warwick, I and J are printed as distinct letters. Perhaps the I/J conflation in the signature is a holdover from an earlier time.


1 min read

There's a Toast article about Assignment 5!

100 Actual Titles of Real Eighteenth-Century Novels:

Exercise 5

8 min read

I. Reading over Garside’s bibliography for 1778, I divided titles roughly into three categories. Very loosely, the bibliography’s novels can be divided into man, woman, and hard-to-categorize. The most prevalent category has the format [Some Word for “Story”] of [Woman’s Name], and conveys a moral aim. Examples include The Example: or the History of Lucy Cleveland. By a Young Lady, The History of Eliza Warwick. In Two Volumes, and of course Evelina, or A Young Lady’s Entrance into the World.

The second category hearkens back to Robinson Crusoe’s extensive spoiler of a title, and focuses not on the virtuous qualities of a young woman but on the adventures of a man. Examples of this second category of titles include 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 (…even the title is not “concise”), and, impressively, 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. Excerpts from contemporary reviews describe the latter novel as a satire in the vein of Gulliver’s Travels, while the reviews of the former seem to address the novel as a serious, if unsatisfactory, work.

Of the sixteen titles listed, I classified six as belonging to the first category, three as belonging to the second category, and seven – nearly half – as being not obviously of one category or the other. A cursory reading of the bibliography suggests that in 1778, the dominant type of novel professed to be concerned with imparting moral virtues through the stories of young ladies and their families as examples. The adventure novels seem like throwbacks to, or remnants of, an older, more masculine type of novel. Of course, it’s pretty dubious to classify the titles in this imprecise way, and as the general introduction notes, a bibliography’s very contents depend on the definition of ‘novel’ used, which is always somewhat arbitrary because of the imprecision and variability of the definition (Garside 4). Caveats aside, the 1778 bibliography suggests a feminization of the novel since the days of Robinson Crusoe, a hypothesis which could be tested with a bibliography from 1719. However, that hypothesis is complicated by the presence of the seven unclassifiable novel titles (for example, Friendship in a Nunnery; or, the American Fugitive. Containing a Full Description of the Mode of Education and Living in Convent Schools, Both on the Low and High Pension; the Manners and Characters of the Nuns; the Arts Practised on Young Minds; and Their Baneful Effects on Society at Large. By a Lady. In Two Volumes). These other titles point to the still-broad definition of novel that seems to include dubiously fictional works and expository writing. Again, comparison with a bibliography of a much earlier year’s novels would be helpful in figuring out whether the trend is towards or away from a greater number of these novel titles that don’t fit the [Adventure of a Man] or [Example of Virtuous Woman] formula. II. I focused on the prefaces of several novels with women’s names in their respective titles: Evelina, Lucy Cleveland, Eliza Warwick, and Memoirs of the Countess D’Anois, as well as The Unfortunate Union, which lacks a woman’s name but seems to share those novels’ purported aims, as it is “Calculated to Promote the Cause of Virtue in Younger Minds.”

Each of these novels takes a different approach to disclosing and justifying young female authorship. With the exception of Evelina, all make excuses for their existence by suggesting that the novel will in some way benefit women; with the exception of the Memoirs and The Unfortunate Union, all exaggeratedly proclaim the poor quality of the writing. The epistolary The Unfortunate Union, or, the Test of Virtue. A Story Founded on Facts, and Calculated to Promote the Cause of Virtue in Younger Minds, by “a Lady,” dives right into its first fictional letter without a preface; apparently, the full title is sufficient justification. Both the anonymously authored Eliza Warwick and “A Young Lady”’s Lucy Cleveland open with a plea to reviewers in which the author is conscious of the apparent temerity of female authorship, littering the preface with self-demeaning qualifications. Eliza Warwick’s writer uses her gender as an excuse for the supposed “inaccuracy” of her writing, but in an interesting twist (reverse psychology?) she suggests that because she is a woman, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for her work to be evaluated at a lower standard and therefore judged higher: I am not so ungenerous as to hope to prejudice you in my favour, by telling you that I am a female, and a very young one—Your gallantry might, to be sure, on that account, whisper something in my behalf—I do not mean that is should when I make that confession—nor should it be made at all, but that I think it necessary to apologize, as a woman, for this work’s not being written, perhaps, so accurately as you would expect it should be, did it come from one of your own sex (Eliza Warwick vi). Both in this novel’s preface and in that of Lucy Cleveland, the problem of female authorship is addressed by proposing a female readership which will benefit morally from the novel. The novel also acknowledges the feminized genre it belongs to. The preface concludes by entreating the reviewers not to attack the novel “by any of those satirical strokes with which sentimental Novels in general are marked by your pen” (Eliza Warwick vii). Like the other novels, Memoirs of the Countess D’Anois proposes that female virtue is at stake, but takes a different approach to readership. The note positions the novel as a corrective response to an earlier book which slanders D’Anois. The writer confidently dismisses the earlier book, explaining that her memoirs are only published because she fears the slanderous book “may be able to create an opinion very much to the disadvantage of women” (D’Anois, To the Reader). This justification claims that readers of the earlier novel may form bad opinions of women based on D’Anois’s alleged conduct; the readers in question may or may not be women themselves. In this preface, female authorship is justified not through the moral education of female readership but through the corrective education of a readership of unspecified gender. Also unlike the other four novels, this preface is signed simply with the surname D’Anois. Whereas the lady authors of the other novels demurely obscure their names and assert their gender as “A Young Lady” (Lucy Cleveland) and “A Lady” (The Unfortunate Union), the use of the surname implies masculinity and high class, since the surname denotes landed power. By addressing not critics but readers, the preface further cements the confidence of the writer in her position. Clearly, the Memoirs are of a different sub-genre from the other novels, one that depends on the visible high class status of its alleged author. Evelina, meanwhile, begins with a poem, followed by a plea to the critics for mercy, with the author’s signature replaced with asterisks. Unlike the other authors, Burney’s main concern is her inexperience as a writer rather than her gender. Burney reminds the “Gentlemen” reviewers that they were, like her, young writers in their own time, appealing not to their sense of gentlemanly chivalry as in Eliza Warwick, but to the common experience of authorship. III. Looking at the corpus from 1750 to 1800, I used the term frequency tool as a very rough proxy for the trajectory of different ideas over time. For example, the graph for the term “virtue” shows that it stays consistently popular, while increasing in absolute value as the number of novels published per year increases. In fact, it seems as though almost every word I’ve tried increases in frequency from 1750 to 1800, which I attribute to the acceleration in sheer volume of novels being published. I decided to take a look at the popularity of “sin” as a proxy for the centrality of religion to English fiction. While the term occurs slightly more frequently by 1800, it becomes markedly less popular.

Wondering whether this trend was specific to the word “sin,” or might be replicated with other religious word, I tried Jesus Christ (constant popularity), saint (constant popularity), holy (constant popularity), a variety of saints’ names (constant popularity), and pilgrim (increase in popularity). The only term with which I was able to replicate the “sin” trend is “sinner,” with a slightly less marked increase. Does this trend point to an evolution, not in the religiosity of novels, but in their religious attitudes? Artemis can’t tell that, but it can point to conceptions of sin as an area for further inquiry.


Exercise 4

3 min read

I chose a relatively straightforward couple of pages – Volume I Chapter IX (pages 15 and 16) of the 1761 edition – to OCR with ABBYY Pro 12. The OCR program consistently made some mistakes in deciphering old-fashioned typography and seemed a bit oversensitive to various dots or smudges on the page, so that ABBYY Pro has Tristram signing off his dedication as his Lordship’s “moji bumble fervant.” Some of the program’s misreadings were pretty consistent; for instance, the program consistently misread the old-fashioned S as an F, and the lower-case C with a curlicue as an upper-case C. I would guess that some OCR programs, if not this one, have tools that would allow you to create custom settings like “read all those F-like thingies as S-es,” sort of like Voyant allows you to add custom stopwords, although I confess I couldn’t figure out how to create those settings on ABBYY Pro.

The OCR program also gets confused by Tristram’s extensive use of long dashes, and converts them into short dashes, blank spaces, and bizarre indentations. In cleaning up the text, I tried to replicate the length of the original dashes, but I was only able to achieve an approximation. This conversion and the subsequent arbitrary refurbishing of the punctuation mean that the effect of the original haphazard dashes gets compromised. A punctilious editor might decide to standardize the dashes, losing the slapdash effect of those in 1761 version, where they seem to be almost a mimesis of Tristram Shandy’s broader halting, digressive structure. On the other hand, faithfully trying to replicate the length of the 1761 dashes for my modern clean version encodes the particular way they appeared in one version, implying that exact transcription of the novel at a particular historical moment is more authentic or correct. Considering the proliferation of later reprints and bowdlerized editions, which people read throughout time and which all constitute the cultural phenomenon that is Tristram Shandy, it seems as arbitrary to exactly replicate the 1761 text as to not. This exercise shines a light on the tension between the novel as a physical, written form and the novel as a living cultural event. Since the figure of the author was often hidden, and novels like Pamela and Robinson Crusoe were published under the pretense of being authored by their title characters, my sense is that the authors of proto-novels were more shadowy figures than authors are nowadays. The success of response novels such as Shamela or The Clockmaker’s Outcry against the Author of the Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy suggest that readers saw the novel’s truth as being mobile with the cast of characters rather than lying with the original authors. In that tradition, a haphazard transcription of the 1761 text does not so much “lose something in translation” as augment the rich history of rewritten, retold, and resold versions of the original novel.


Assignment 3

3 min read

Voyant is really neat! Playing around with the word cloud, I found that this tool showed me some things about the novel that were “hiding in plain sight.” For instance, the word cloud’s most prominent word, one I’d applied stopwords, was “said.” Perhaps it’s obvious, but seeing that massive word at the center of the cloud brought to light the way that dialogue is central to Pamela, which seems odd given that Pamela is a novel of letters. The two categories in the cloud which stood out to me were title words such as sir, Mr, Mrs, master, lady, gentleman, and madam; and “innate quality words,” such as good (most prominently), poor, happy, and honour, which occur with approximately equal frequency. Interestingly, master occurs with far greater frequency that mistress. Master is primarily used by Pamela to refer to the position of Mr. B as her social superior an employer. Mistress is not really just the female term for master; instead, it has a sexual connotation, and in Shamela, that connotation is made explicit when Mr. B offers for Sham to be his mistress: not an equal, but a kept woman.

This difference seems to uphold Armstrong’s argument that Pamela is able to tell a radical narrative of class difference by couching it in terms of gender difference. I thought that it might be instructive to look at words that describe people in both a classed and a gendered way – lady, gentleman, and gentlewoman – and see whether and how their frequency changed over the course of the book. I compared the frequency of a couple of words: gentleman, lady, virtue, and gentlewoman, over the course of the book.

Here is a comparison between the words gentleman and gentlewoman.

Gentleman consistently occurs with more frequency than gentlewoman, confirming what we already know, which is that the two main characters are a gentleman and someone who is not a gentlewoman. The results are similar for lady and gentleman ( with lady occurring more frequently at the beginning of the book, which corresponds to the prominence of Pamela’s late lady at the start of the plot.

Voyant does not distinguish between Lady as part of a reference to a person’s name and title, as in Lady Davers, and lady as a social position, as in “if I had been born a lady,” which is perhaps a weakness of the tool or at least of this chart. However, scanning through the occurrences of the word lady, references to lady outside of a particular person’s title and name, references include “if I was a lady of birth” and “if I had been born a lady,” all wishful, conditional references.


p. 47

1 min read

"I smiled to myself at the sight of this money: “O drug!” said I, aloud, “what art thou good for? Thou art not worth to me—no, not the taking off the ground; one of those knives is worth all this heap; I have no manner of use for thee—e’en remain where thou art, and go to the bottom as a creature whose life is not worth saying.” However, upon second thoughts I took it away..."