Network analysis is both a method and a theory for exploring the relationships inherent in archaeological materials. In this paper, I direct attention to what may be the lowest-hanging fruit for archaeological network analysis: epigraphic materials. Epigraphic materials are replete with obvious and clearly visible social networks. In their archaeological aspect, further relationships can be discerned and distilled. I work through two brief case studies connected with Roman stamped bricks from the Tiber Valley, looking at both social and archaeological relationships. Network analysis may best be used not to prove a particular theory about these materials, but rather to generate new insights and new ways of reconsidering these materials. When more archaeological or epigraphic datasets become available, network analysis will become a regular tool in the archaeologist’s data tool kit.
Social network analysis as a distinct field of study had its genesis in the anthropological revolt against structural-functionalism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was born through an awareness among a new generation of scholars that structural- functional models failed to make adequate space for human agency. Attention to personal networks – who knew whom, and how closely they were connected – seemed better suited to understanding individual decision-making than the previous generation’s focus on groups and roles. It quickly became evident that any serious attempt to map social networks of meaningful size – the population of an entire village, for instance – would all but require a rigorous quantitative approach…
The advent of “distant reading” methods has created the opportunity to look at texts in a new way. But with the shift from close to distant reading, there is also a danger of loosing sight of fine-grained text structure. Like any method, distant reading methodology is not theoretically neutral, but carries a bundle of presuppositions. In this paper, a new method of text network analysis is proposed as a bridge between close and distant reading. Network analysis as a methodological basis offers two advantages: Firstly, it links methodology to theoretical perspectives that highlight relational aspects of linguistic, historical and social phenomena. Secondly, it allows humanities scholars to participate in the interdisciplinary field of network research and to benefit from available methods and tools. The proposed methodology of text-based network generation links close and distant reading in two ways. By building on syntactical structures, the networks resemble closely the linguistic structure of text. And by linking network data and text passages, the method allows to go back and forth between a distant view of the textand its close reading. The method is discussed using Novalis’ essay from 1799 “Die Christenheit oder Europa” as an example.
In this paper, the authors show the application and use of automated text network analysis based on ancient corpora. The examples draw from Ancient Egyptian sources and the Indian Mahābhārata. Different text-based network generation algorithms like “Nubbi” or “Textplot” are presented in order to showcase alternative methodological approaches. Visualizations of the generated networks will help scholars to grasp complex social and semantic text structures and serve as a starting point for new research questions. All tools for applying the methods to ancient corpora are available as open source software.
This essay describes the popular Bechdel Test—a measure of women’s dialogue in films—in terms of social network analysis within fictional narrative. It argues that this form of vernacular criticism arrives at a productive convergence with contemporary academic critical methodologies in surface and postcritical reading practices, on the one hand, and digital humanities, on the other. The data-oriented character of the Bechdel Test, which a text rigidly passes or fails, stands in sharp contrast to identification- or recognition-based evaluations of a text’s feminist orientation, particularly because the former does not prescribe the content, but merely the social form, of women’s agency. This essay connects the Bechdel Test and a lineage of feminist and early queer theory to current work on social network analysis within literary texts, and it argues that the Bechdel Test offers the beginnings of a measured approach to understanding agency within actor networks.
This paper presents a way of looking at Roman space from a Roman perspective, and suggests ways in which this point of view might open up new approaches in Roman archaeology. It turns on one conception of Roman space in particular, preserved for us in the Antonine Itineraries. Working from a position that considers the context of the itineraries as movement-through-space, this paper presents an investigation using social network analysis and agent-based simulation to re-animate the itineraries. The itineraries for Iberia, Gaul, Italy, and Britain are considered. The results of the social network analysis suggest structural differences in the way that the itineraries presented space to the reader/traveler. The results of the simulation of information diffusion through these regions following the routes in the itineraries suggest ways that this conception of space affected the cultural and material development of these regions. Suggestions for extending the basic model for more complicated archaeological analyses are presented.
The development of a professionalized, highly centralized printmaking industry in northern Europe during the mid-sixteenth century has been argued to be the inevitable result of prints’ efficacy at reproducing images, and thus encouraging mass production. However, it is unclear whether such a centralized structure was truly inevitable, and if it persisted through the seventeenth century. This paper uses network analysis to infer these historical print production networks from two large databases of existing prints in order to characterize whether and how centralization of printmaking networks changed over the course of this period, and how these changes may have influenced individual printmakers.
This project undertakes the cross-cultural study of literary networks in a global context, ranging from post-classical Islamic philosophy to the European Enlightenment. Integrating new image-processing techniques with social network analysis, we examine how different cultural epochs are characterized by unique networks of intellectual exchange. Research on “world literature” has become a central area of inquiry today within the humanities, and yet so far data-driven approaches have largely been absent from the field. Our combined approach of visual language processing and network modeling allows us to study the non-western and pre-print textual heritages so far resistant to large-scale data analysis as well as develop a new model of global comparative literature that preserves a sense of the world’s cultural differences.
We propose to map out the History of European thought over last three centuries using as a proxy the history of changes in 15 editions of Encyclopedia Britannica. Editors of each new edition had to build a new consensus on what to include and what to exclude, how much volume a subject deserves, and what are the relations between subjects. These decisions may be captured and analyzed by methods of natural language processing, network analysis, and information visualization, thus providing tools for identification and analysis of various historical trends within and across domains of knowledge, such as discussion of theories and ideas, evolution of concepts, growth of reputations and such.
In 1838 Thomas Mulledy, S.J. signed his name to an agreement selling the 275 enslaved persons who resided on Jesuit-owned estates in Southern Maryland to Louisiana. The sale served as the culmination of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus’s fraught experience with slaveholding in the colonial and early national period. While much historical work has been written on Jesuit slaveholding, that writing has primarily focused on the implications for the religious community and the moral universe in which these men made their decisions about slavery. Thus far, however, no scholar has studied the enslaved people themselves. My work in the Jesuit Plantation Project focuses on the lives and experiences of the enslaved, rather than on their Jesuit owners. Focusing on the enslaved community itself makes this project ideally suited for digital methods. I employ linked open data and an array of techniques to visualize the entire community of enslaved people and their relationships to one another across space and time. Working with these digital methodologies opens up a host of important questions about their appropriate application to the history of enslavement and the representation of the enslaved. Social network analysis and visualization offers some promise, but also raises a host of difficulties that I will explore in this paper: What does it mean to apply social network analysis measures to a community that is bounded and has very little control over their inclusion/movement? With a significantly incomplete data set, what is the threshold at which social network analysis makes sense? How can we mitigate against erasing the significance of these individuals in an effort to provide an aggregated view of their community? How can historians best integrate these techniques with traditional narrative interpretation to provide users with a rich understanding of the lives of an (this) enslaved community?