Voyant Assignment



Graph 1: capture

The first graph that I had created I decided to search words from Frankenstein’s 1818 version and looked up words like supernatural, fear, death and night. I was thinking about genre and how these words specifically tie into the genre of the horror/gothic novel in the 18th century. What I noticed was that supernatural was not present throughout the novel and was a word that was not often used. Words like death and night appeared more frequently throughout the novel. Fear was a word that was used throughout the novel but did not fluctuate like night and death did. What I can conclude from this research is that the words in the novel definitely contribute to the genre that they are associated with because of how often words appear. 

Graph 2:  capture-2

For graph two I used a link graph in order to view how words in the 1818 text of Frankenstein are associated to one another and how close or far apart they appear to be to one another. The terms man and science were linked to one another but man and science were not linked to one another but fairly close to one another. The word society and monster were linked to one another and far away from the terms man, science and family. I thought this was interesting because I would have thought that monster would have been linked to science but it was not. What I can conclude from this graph link is that words in the text seem to have been linked to different words but, not necessarily where they originated from. Ex: science linked to monster or man linked to family.

Graph 3: capture-6-2

For my third graph I decided to use the stream graph to show the relationship between the words that I had processed in the graph. I wanted to know what words appeared more often I typed in words such as life, power, science and, creation. The word creation was the most frequent word then science then power and lastly life. I found it interesting because the graph looks like the words have levels to them in relation to their importance.

Trees and information

As the chapter states in the beginning maps and graphs attempt to measure more quantitative data as opposed to trees more qualitative data. And yet maps can still be skewed by a cartographer’s bias in gauging two locations distance on the visual representation of the map. Graphs usually are the most objective of the three since they rely on scales and pure numbers and mathematics then the other two. When it comes to trees though how is the decision made of which branch is related to which one more? When it comes to the highly subjective nature of interpreting literature the answer gets muddier.

Franco Moretti mentions this in his trees chapter of “Graphs, Maps and Trees” with his mention of “objective” and “subjective” trees. And I see how the distinction could be made as I suppose you could make associations between something like genres with cataloguing keywords that are often used within a genre. But that method could be hardly called objective since the criterion for such an evaluation would almost certainly have to be arbitrary. I suppose given the nature of genres as largely arbitrary and literature’s nature as subjective, measuring more metaphysical things as genres will always be to some extent approximations rather than cold hard objective statements.

I wonder if such a thing as a completely objective tree could exist? A objective graph and for the most a part a fairly subjective map could used using mathematics. I think the distinction lies within that element. For the most part as far as my knowledge extends, most trees do not make use of formulas and data and the ones that do don’t really have hard criterions to make evaluations with. Though I’m sure some do, the ones that I have seen such as the ones in Franco Moretti’s “Graphs, Maps and Trees” don’t really let the reader in on their methodology either. Of course I am not implying that trees are a inherently inferior way of categorizing informatino just that the deficiencies built into the tree method are interesting to think about


“Distant reading…where distance is however not an obstacle but a specific form of knowledge” (Moretti 1). I’ve never actually head anyone use distant reading in any english course I have taken. This one passage really caught my eye, and I assumed Moretti meant speed reading and looking at the text as a whole. Just to confirm my assumptions I looked up distant reading and realized my idea was incorrect. The New York Times actually published an article based on “What is Distant Reading?”. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/books/review/the-mechanic-muse-what-is-distant-reading.html

Is Moretti saying we need to stop reading books in order to learn more? That sounds a bit contradictory to what we have been taught in a classroom for the past two decades. Books may hold knowledge, but we need to expand our minds and push through our limitations. Using  graphs as a device can help us find the distinctions throughout genres and not trust only our knowledge of what the writing could be classified as. Just because I want to identity a novel as a gothic piece of literature, the graph could open the possibilities of many more genres I had not even thought of.

Moretti crosses the line in using scientific method in literary terms. “Here he abandons the quantitative method and turns to morphology, concluding that ‘the cycle is the hidden thread of literary history” (Moretti 26). I always viewed science and literature as two completely different entities. Here, Moretti is saying they are morphed into one another.

Shannen Coleman

Graphs, Maps, Trees

This book goes a much more into further detail of the topics covered in our last class discussion. It focuses on a much broader way to research literature over a humongous period of time. It also shows us the rise of novels throughout different countries around the world, including Britain, Japan, Italy, and Spain. It goes a little further into these divisions and subdivisions of genres, as they try to categorize them.

I found it extremely interesting that there were several downturns within literature due to politics. Political crisis had a lot to do with the way in which a novel is written. I would find this quite the opposite if I was a reader during a time of war and so on. I would actually find a novel more intriguing to read through the eyes of someone else, especially if they have an opposing view as mine. In modern day, we have social media to share our opinions on political views, now more than ever since we are having such an unorthodox election. As upset as people get, they still enjoy reading posts about the presidential candidates as a weird pleasure for themselves. I would assume this would be the same for someone reading a novel around the time of the Risorgimento War (pg 9) for instance.

I don’t have much of a question, but rather an observation that through these digital studies, we are able to really break down reading material into way we never thought possible. It is a very helpful tool to use because it lets you see works from all different types of angles. It also is very useful to make comparisons with novels from different countries, and analyze why one may have a great downfall than the other, by putting it all into a more mathematical term that could be understood a lot more clearly through graphing. The graphing also helps everyone see why certain categorizes for genres are made, and why there are ever sub categories a well. That’s very useful when examining a novel much more closely.

“Graphs” Digital Humanities?

In this section Franco Moretti showed a lot of research on how literature has changed over time.  He showed the number of novels written per year with different figures for different regions and showed how the genres overlapped.  The genres were interesting because of the overlap.  One genre would start falling in popularity just as another genre was emerging.  Moretti suggested a sort of generational activity behind the replacement of genres but didn’t seem to have a full theory on the matter.  I found this to be interesting research.  He sort of went behind the scenes and discussed the corelation between the novels and outside events that might have had an impact on them, displaying the novel’s place in the larger framework of history throughout the world.  It seems that there are internal and external factors affecting the timeline of novels.  Technology, wars, trade, materials, etc. all have an effect on the novel, its content, production, and distribution.  But there are also internal forces which changed the way people read, for example reading many texts once vs. reading many over and over again in great depth.  A lot of this work seemed like presenting and interpreting data, doing historical comparisons, and making conclusions, some of which seem larly speculative.

While I find this work interesting so far, I am not sure what to consider it.  Is this digital humanities?  It does seem to be a sort of macro analysis, but it all seems to be about numbers and data in terms of the life cycle of the novel in general without any analysis of content.  Is this the digital humanities of just the study of the progression of the life of the novel?  Considering it the latter is not to discredit the work in any way.  It might just be the foundation for digital humanities work in the ‘maps’ and ‘trees’ sections.  It might already be considered digital humanities, im not sure.

Novelistic Forms Throughout Time

Franco Moretti’s Graphs,Maps,Trees is a very interesting theoretical book about the historical aspects of books,genres and, history in the graphs section of the book. What I observed from this section of the book was the graphs illustrated where all  different from one another. Figure 1 was based on the rise of the novel throughout history throughout different countries. What I found interesting was that Britain and Japan were similarly graphed but different from Italy and Spain who were similar as well. Nigeria on the graph was not in relation to any other countries and was off to the side. This graph was of great importance in the chapter because literary history is shown in this chart.  I feel that although there are many questions as to why history reflects novels and their genres is interesting and complex. What is focused on in the section is the similarities and differences between different countries and the production of novels, the genre types that appear during certain time periods, as well as the rise and fall of certain genres as well as authors. Although there are many questions still left unanswered about these changes in history, there is a graph to show factual proof that there are changes occurring, which can be the beginning of a way of analyzing the data in a more coherent manner. What I  observed that was interesting is the history of the British genre forms in the 1800’s (the gothic). I am currently in a gothic/horror class and have read some of the gothic horror books that were mentioned in this chapter. The gothic genre takes over the epistolary genre and the historical genre takes over the gothic genre in history. Novels such as The Castle of Ottanto and Pamela took over the gothic genre but, it is explained that a change in genre occurs over time because it starts to die out and become less popular because new gernes are evolving and books such as The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that is a realist text that can diminish the gothic novel because it is taken over by  realistic/scientific factual ideas in history. But, the end of one genre and the start of another does not mean that the previous genre will not return again. I believe that history is repeated and regenerated time and time again. The gothic genre for example comes back in history in a new way that is remade to be different than the gothic genre from the past. The study of graphs in this chapter are not only  “theoretical explanations for a theory but of a whole family of novelistic forms throughout time. (p.30)” I thought that this quote in the end of the chapter gave a conclusion as to what the chapter was trying to get through to the reader in simple terms. I felt that the graphs not only represented novels throughout history but also change in genres, authors, time period, accessibility of novels, and the rise and falls of genres throughout history.