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.
This article combines qualitative and quantitative methods to rethink the literary history of late medieval China (830–960 CE). It begins with an overview of exchange poetry in the Tang dynasty and its role in the construction of the poetic subject, namely, the poetic subject’s distributed textual body. A total of 10,869 poems exchanged between 2,413 individuals are cataloged to seek the structure of the collectively imagined literary relations of the time. This catalog is subjected to social-network analysis to reveal patterns and peculiarities in the extant corpus of late medieval poetry, which in turn prompt close readings of the sources. These readings lead to four conclusions about the history of late medieval poetry: (a) Buddhist monks were hubs of literary activity, (b) the poet Jia Dao became an increasingly important site of connection over time, (c) the concept of “poetic schools” is not a useful lens through which to view the Late Tang, and (d) poets at the center of the network are increasingly characterized by their mobility. This combination of network analysis and close reading highlights the dynamic nature of Chinese literary history, providing insight into the ever-shifting conjunctures of forms, genres, expectations, and relations in the late medieval literary world.
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.