• Network Analysis Finds Shifts in the History of Modern Architecture

    David Mimno, Gregory Yauney (see profile)
    Architectural history, Digital humanities, Network analysis
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    Architectural historical texts implicitly create networks of relations between the objects, people, and texts they examine. Histories of European modern architecture examine a consistent core of these entities. From each of four English-language histories of European modern architecture (by Le Corbusier, Reyner Banham, Anthony Vidler, and Jean-Louis Cohen), we construct a graph of the objects, people, and texts mentioned in the same context. We construct our graphs at the page-level because the data comes from book indices. These four graphs provide overlapping but distinct views of modern architecture spaced throughout the last century. Network analysis, in the form of eigenvector centrality and triangle counting, allows us to make observations about both the form and content of these histories. This process allows comparisons between how the different histories relate groups of objects, and we find that some of the texts reexamine objects in multiple contexts much more frequently. We find that certain architects that the histories portray as important, like Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, are in fact the most central in the four graphs. In the later histories, we find that modern architects are more often mentioned with the work they influenced rather than with the works to which they understood themselves to be responding. Methodologies for comparing networks derived from multiple texts are used to investigate architectural history in this case study, but they are also useful for any situation with multiple views of relationships between similar entities. We expect the methodology to afford larger historiographical studies in other areas of architecture and history.
    Poster for DH2020
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    11 months ago
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