Monthly Archives: February 2015

Project Starting Point

Posted by Jessica White

The main focus of my project is to explore the creation of a multimedia experience with John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera.

At the moment, it is difficult to understand where the project is heading, as there are a lot of paths that it could take, depending on research coming in the following weeks. The project could end up being an edited version of the text, in which the music that I will have sourced to fit with the Airs in the text is immediately accessible to the reader in order to gain understanding and even to engage more with the comedy or the contextual parts of the text.

It could however, take a different turn if there are not significant sections of the text which have clips of the songs available, in which case the project could become a thematic essay, if the songs can be found for a specific character etc.

Equally, I could fuse these ideas together and create a ‘pilot’ for a digital opera for which I could commision my own works of the music found in the text and put these together with the original scores, lyrics and text surrounding them in the opera – allowing for a discussion about the modern perception of the musical themes in the text and incorporating the original lyrics.

The next step in my project is to do some research using ECCO, EBBA and Youtube to discover the range of music from the opera available to me and then from there I will see which are the most interesting to me and how I wish to use them further.  I will try however, to use musicians to create my own versions of the song, even if I do have the original file to see how we portray the music in modern times. I may also create Sibelius/Finale files where I can compile the scores with the original instruments to get my own copy of the score and my own sound file recreating the song.


image: Andreas Praefcke via commons wikimedia


Evolution of the Female Novelist.

Posted by Emily Price

Project – For this project I will analyse the changing portrayal of relationships and love by female novelists between the 17th and 18th century. In order to analyse this I will aim to gather an equal amount of female novels from each decade in plain text format. This will hopefully result in a representative set of data which I can begin analysing with visualisation tools, performing macro analysis on these texts.  I will upload my texts in chronological view in order to create results in a timeline format. Working within these tools I will analyse key terms and word clusters that surround relationships and love and reveal how/if the frequency of these words alters across the centuries.

Once I have analysed this set of texts and drawn results from the data, I will aim to further analyse these results by consulting wider critical research based around the progression of female novelists and their portrayal of love.

If specific decades of interest are founded whereby activity levels are increasingly higher than others, and frequency of the words dramatically changed, I aim to perform a case study on this area of interest to analyse it in more depth. For example if 1720 – 1740 produced a high frequency of results I would zoom into these decades and perform a more in depth analysis, perhaps involving the addition of more novels and bringing into play novels from male authors also. This contrasting research between the genders would then aim to analyse whether these were results determined by a change in female authors and their writing or due to the change in writing as a whole in that time frame.

Project proposal: mapping Persuasion

Abbie Jolly proposed the following:

Persuasion imageI shall be using the Google maps tool to analyse and visualize the findings of my question in relation to Persuasion (that has yet to be decided). I will be creating subheadings located on the map which may feature titles including: class, place, character. Other topics the project may discuss include visualization, digital humanities, history, and the novel. Included in my map will be links to primary tools such as Ngrams, Voyant tools and other databases, to help articulate my arguments and enhance my findings. I feel that my project could be very successful once all research has been conducted. However I think my main issue for my project will be its structure and its focus: I will be using the map tool as the format but I think the difficulty I will face is being able to demonstrate a clear relationship between all my subheadings.

Image: Owen Benson, Flickr.

Robinson Crusoe & Adventure in the 18th Century – A Study

Daniel Defoe project
Daniel Defoe, from WikiCommons (Public Domain use).

Posted by Ben Franks

Hand-in-hand with becoming an adult seems to be a passion for travel. The world seems less daunting and more inviting – especially if it means you might be able to avoid employment for another few months or so. Whether that passion ever really dies is another question.

By the time Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) managed to get Robinson Crusoe published it was 1719 and he was getting on a bit. Nonetheless, it has become one of the greatest adventure and shipwreck novels ever written, generating timeless appeal. A film adaptation cropped up just 18 years ago in 1997, starring Pierce Brosnan – the fresh new face of the titular James Bond role. So clearly Crusoe has the power to stir audiences even today.

So by combining the passion for travel with the timeless appeal of Robinson Crusoe makes for a pretty exciting project. One that sees this novel against the backdrop of its context – the 18th Century.

How, say, does the word ‘adventure’ define itself in this period? Does it see itself as a genre or subject? Are adventures in a similar vain to Crusoe – shipwreck, escapism, etc.?

My aims are to explore this subject through close reading of the novel, while using distance reading techniques of 18th Century novel titles. I will develop this by creating an appendix of short evaluated visualisations (mappings, nGram, etc.) and articles, summarising them into a single post that will address my conclusions about adventure in the 18th Century.

As it is a digital tool, users will be able to interactively explore the subject through interior site hyperlinks, immersing them in my project.

The project will be hosted on – have a look.

Initial Project Idea


Posted by Alice Creswell.

Inspired by Franco Moretti’s work on the relationship between titles and genre in eighteenth century texts, my project will focus on a specific genre (to be decided) and map its journey over the century. Word clusters specific to the genre will be identified and their relationship to the genre also mapped. I would like to include visualization tools such as Google Ngram as well as pie charts to show how the genre changes over time. Also it would be advantageous to collect a data-set of novels from the eighteenth century from the specific genre chosen and input these into Voyant Cirrus to see if any significance can be found in the most frequently used words of the novels and whether any conclusions can be drawn from this in regards to the genre.

For your next session …

Think-flickr-ErikEckelWe’ll begin planning your module project. To help, come prepared with ideas for these questions:

  1. what has interested you most on the module so far?
  2. what literary question would you like to pursue? (There may be more than one at this point, but that’s OK: we’ll start the process of refining this to one question).
  3. what approach, or approaches, might help you answer that question?
  4. what critical sources might help you?
  5. what more do you need to know?


Image: Erik Eckel, via Flickr.

What is a novel in the eighteenth century? Some numbers …

Students Ben Franks and Alice Creswell share their charts on some keyword searches conducted via the the ‘Genre’ filter in ESTC across 1660-1799. The first chart breaks down the 2,880 hits from the genre term ‘Fiction’ into various title keywords:









This second pie-chart breaks down the 1,434 hits from the search term ‘Novels’:


We wondered about the ways in which the ESTC catalogue had tagged these genres and the exent to which they overlapped (meta-metadata questions?). But these results were given additional context and meaning by setting them against the same keyword searches on Google’s N-Gram viewer and some more granulated searches of the metadata of the 1,000 novels in the Early Novels Database.

Ben and Alice’s favourite titles? The Devil Turn’d Hermit (check that full title!) and Adventures of a Bank-Note.