Literary Lab Maps 'Emotions in Victorian London' ; Stanford Aims to Harness Digital Technology for Cultural Analysis

By Blumenthal, Ralph | International New York Times, April 15, 2015 | Go to article overview

Literary Lab Maps 'Emotions in Victorian London' ; Stanford Aims to Harness Digital Technology for Cultural Analysis


Blumenthal, Ralph, International New York Times


An online project is part of a growing movement in the humanities to harness digital technology for cultural analysis -- like treating books as data to create "literary geography."

What lurks behind the literary landmarks of Victorian London? Fear? Joy? Ambiguity?

In a new data mining project, a Stanford University research collective has sought to map the British capital's "emotional geography" by categorizing what feelings or sensations common settings convey in the novels of Dickens, Thackeray, Austen and 738 other mostly 19th-century authors.

The effort, "Mapping Emotions in Victorian London," recently put online, is part of a growing movement in the humanities to harness digital technology for cultural analysis -- like treating books as data to create "literary geography."

For its project, the Stanford Literary Lab, which uses "computational criticism" to analyze literature in a statistical way, asked anonymous participants to judge whether 167 places that are named in 4,363 literary passages in 1,402 books conveyed "Dreadful London," "London in the Light," or "A Day in the Life of Old London," among other categories.

Why? Because, with today's digital technology, it could be done. But a better answer, scholars say, is that it's a way of exploring the computer's nearly limitless possibilities for textual analysis, which will find increasingly valuable future applications.

"It broadly allows for collection of information and empowerment with the public to do research not otherwise possible," said Gabriel Wolfenstein, a Stanford historian on the project.

In one major application of such technology that pointed the way ahead in 1999, Franco Moretti, the director of the Stanford Literary Lab, published "Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900," charting relationships between literature and geography.

In "Mapping Emotions in Victorian London," click, for example, on a digital pin marking the site of the Old Bailey Courthouse, London's central criminal court from 1673 to 1913, and this quotation from Dickens's "A Tale of Two Cities" of 1859 pops up:

"The dead man disposed of, and the crowd being under the necessity of providing some other entertainment for itself, another brighter genius (or perhaps the same) conceived the humor of impeaching casual passers-by, as Old Bailey spies, and wreaking vengeance on them. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Literary Lab Maps 'Emotions in Victorian London' ; Stanford Aims to Harness Digital Technology for Cultural Analysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.