visual mapping

My exploration of this week’s materials led me to some interesting projects in digital humanities.  Stanford’s “Republic of Letters” Project takes on an ambitious task in mapping networks of letters in different locations in the 18th century.  Additionally, the project’s emphasis on metadata for early-modern scholarship displays some of the potential of visual mapping tools.  The project narrates a story and adds pictures to help the reader visualize what these networks looked like (actual sketches of letter-writers included!)  How interesting!  These new visualization techniques seem like they could open many avenues for how we understand the past. It was quite interesting to see the juxtaposition of modern visual maps, nodes, and edges, on top of maps from the 18th century:“Republic of Letters” Here is an interesting example of someone using visual maps to track digital humanities scholars through the “Publish or Perish” program: “Publish or Perish”.  I also stumbled upon a site through digital humanities at Claremont College called “Hidden Patterns of the Civil War.”  Similar to Stanford’s project “Republic of Letters,” the project seeks to map out and visualize sites of emancipation, patterns of formalized interracial marriages after the Civil War, slave market locations, and election sites.  The project also includes a database of newspaper archives. Check it out for yourself:“Hidden Patterns of the Civil War”

I was pleasantly surprised with the introductory Graph Theory video and how some of these concepts can be used in digital humanities.  The author of “thescottbotirregular” also does a very good job of synthesizing some of this information on his blog: The Scottbot Irregular  I’m interested in the connection of graph theory to my project.  My preliminary idea for my project is to trace genealogies of women blues, jazz, and soul singers from the early 20th century to the present.  My aim would be to allow the reader to construct his or her own understanding of this music in relationship to race, class, gender, and sexuality.  Some questions I’d like to explore in my project would center around the concept of cultural appropriation.  Where is the line between honoring a tradition and appropriating music, lyrics, feeling, etc. for personal gain and recognition?  When did these women possess agency through their music, and when were they exploited by larger institutions and systems? (For example, how did the U.S.’s racial discrimination impact the circulation, distribution, and production of black blues women?)  This project is a feminist exploration of this music.  There has been much attention paid to male blues and jazz singers, and very little to their powerful female counterparts.  I’d like this discussion to lead to more contemporary artists, particularly moving into the arenas of “blue-eyed soul.”  The boundaries between these genres are fluid, and the traditions are complicated.  However, I hope to be able to trace some genealogies here in order to understand the complicated factors that go into how we understand and listen to blues, jazz, and soul music, and how we understand its development and place in history.  Here is my preliminary map: Jeanette’s Project Ideas

My other mapping experiment was done through Gephi.  Being new to Gephi, I went through the process of using Netvizz on Facebook, I and checked out the tutorial set up by a fellow BC grad.  After importing the .gdf file, I did my best to follow Sarj’s step-by-step directions on how to create a map.  Unfortunately, I had to go through the process several times before completing anything that looked like the examples I saw.  Gephi would crash when applying new fonts and sizes of nodes.  On my third try, I went through the process blindly for the last few steps and for the exports, which is why my map looks like this: Jeanette’s Graph Attempt.  Does anyone have any insights on how to apply filters through Netvizz?

That’s all for now 🙂


About jeanettethall

graduate student in American Studies View all posts by jeanettethall

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