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Eighteenth-Century Novel Course Syllabi: visualizations, speculation, and a plea

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When we teach the eighteenth-century novel, what novels do we teach? We talk about the narrow canon of eighteenth-century novels created by nineteenth- and twentieth-century novel theorists and literary critics - and we sometimes oppose that small set of novels to the wide world of fictions readers published and read throughout the long eighteenth century. But what is our current teaching canon? And how does it compare to the canon of novels we write about in books and articles?

Our project helps answer these questions with a series of visualizations representing novels and theorists/critics taught in twenty-five syllabi focused on the eighteenth-century novel.

Even in this draft version, you'll see some interesting (and some predictable) results: Pamela is taught A LOT (18/25 syllabi), followed at a bit of a distance by Tristram Shandy, Evelina, Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews, Moll Flanders, Robinson Crusoe, Oroonoko, and Northanger Abbey(see the Work Frequency graph). Ian Watt, Michael McKeon, and Nancy Armstrong are the most-taught theorists (see the Theorist Frequency graph) - but only some syllabi include critical and theoretical readings. 40% of novels taught are by written by women, and none of the novels taught have still-unknown authors.

Noteworthy in this set of syllabi, as the network of novels connected by syllabi shows us, is the strong contrast between a small set of relatively frequently-taught texts and theorists (the inner core of large nodes multiply connected to many syllabi) and the larger number of texts appearing on only one syllabus (the outer ring of texts with connections to only a single syllabus).

These visualizations are drafts; we need more syllabi than we can find in the internet (and indeed, we're worried that using syllabi available on the web may bias results)! Please SEND US YOUR SYLLABUS at earlynovelsdatabase at gmail dot com. Links or documents are welcome, as are simply the list of the novels and critical/theoretical readings you assign. If you don't want us to use your name, we won't; if you want us to use your name, we will. If you want to us to archive and make your syllabus publicly available, with your own copyright preferences, we will.


The original syllabi (or syllabuses, if you prefer) are linked here. Our principle of selection was to grab the first twenty-five English-language 18th c novel, "long history of prose fiction," or "rise of the novel" syllabi we found through web searches of related terms. Includes syllabi for a number of undergraduate and a few graduate courses.

The visualizations were created by Gaby Ekens (@gabbomatic) for END using Gephi and Excel.

The data Gaby based the visualizations on is here; if you notice errors or have questions, feel free to get in touch.

Stanford Named Entity Recognizer

1 min read

The Stanford Named Entity Recognizer (NER) can extract names, places, organizations, dates, and references to money from unstructured full-texts.

Early Novels Titles Location Mapping , Emma Madarasz, END Summer 2014 project

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END 2014 student researcher Emma Madarasz (Swarthmore '15) mapped locations named in the titles of early novels using Mapbox. (Click on the pins on the world map to see the number and lists of titles associated with each place.)#map

Open Lab: Text Analysis with R for Beginners

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Friday afternoons, 2-4:45, beginning June 5. Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania, Vitale II (room 623).

Weekly summer open lab focusing on computational text analysis using the free and accessible Studio to reveal patterns in texts.

Join us in person Friday afternoons on the sixth floor of Penn's Van Pelt Library as we work through Matt Jockers's accessible textbook *Text Analysis with R for Students of Literature*, or follow along at home and post questions and comments on our workshop wiki space.

No previous experience necessary, no homework, and no need to come every week. To express interest email krawson@pobox.upenn.edu. A collaboration between the Penn Libraries W0rdLab, the Swarthmore Libraries, and the Early Novels Database.

This is a post.

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I'm trying to figure out how to adjust public/private/share-with-a-group settings. (Update: they won't work on this site. Waiting to find out about getting them set up.) (Update: Known is going to let us begin piloting their three-tiered privacy settings on this site shortly. More soon.)

Welcome to END's Known.