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Our Project

A Digital Humanities Research Project at the University of Chicago

Literary Networks explores quantitative approaches to the sociology of literary and cultural production. It is a project with a long historical arc which we, as literary scholars, approach with a healthy dose of skepticism. But in the past few years, social network analysis and corresponding visualization tools have opened up many new possibilities for how we approach literary history, particularly questions about influence and affiliation.

Graphs of the linkages between authors, texts, publications and similar data have proved useful not only for computational analysis of large-scale social data, but also for interactive and exploratory interfaces that lead to a more productive dialogue with the literary archive. We apply these techniques to modern poetry, particularly as it flourished in the “little magazines” of the pre-war period, to see what they can tell us about patterns of artistic affiliation and collaboration in specific national contexts (United States, Japan, China), but also in the transnational and comparative contexts within which this production was embedded.

This site is the public interface of our project, where you can find information about our datasets, sample visualizations, a list of publications, and a lab notebook where we will be presenting some of the new ideas and concepts we are developing.