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Peer Reviewed

“Elevating Influence”: Victorian Literary History by Graphs

Jana Smith Elford, Susan Brown, Michael Bauer, Jennifer Berberich and Jonathan Cable


1  Jana Smith Elford provided the use case for this paper and tested the prototype in connection with her doctoral research; Susan Brown guided the prototype design from a literary historical perspective; Michael Bauer directed the technical work; and Jennifer Berberich and Jonathan Cable did the coding of the prototype.

2  Early studies by Ellen Moers, Elaine Showalter, and Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar all paid significant attention to the position and works of nineteenth-century women writers. They have been followed by hundreds of studies of individual writers, considerations of movements such as the New Woman, reprints, scholarly editions, and anthologies of primary texts. Together these have remapped the Victorian literary landscape.

3 For a video of OrlandoVision in action, click here or visit: [ ]. Work on OrlandoVision has been generously supported by the Sharcnet High Performance Computing Consortium, which provided programming resources, by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Arts.

4  Two accessible studies of graph theory and its application to the analysis of social groups are Albert-László Barabási’s Linked: The New Science of Networks and Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler’s Connected: The Surprising Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.

5 The examples given thus far have used theOrlandoVisiondefault Graph Mode, which shows the full graph. The remainder use Highlight or Toggle mode. Toggle and Highlight modes allow the user to focus further. Toggle Mode allows users to start with the lines and other names associated with a single node. When a user left-clicks on a related node, all the lines and nodes connected to that second node will appear. One can thus expand the visible portions of the graph incrementally, gradually exposing a subset of the full graph. Highlight Mode is similar to Toggle mode; the other nodes in the graph are visible but dimmed so that the toggled nodes are more prominent, allowing users to see the connections in the entire graph while still being able to focus on the connections that matter most to them.

6 This result suggests that those already highlighted comprise those theosophists who were active in this branch of the suffrage movement, although further inquiry would be necessary to ascertain whether there are theosophists involve with suffrage but not linked to Pankhurst. In addition, it must be remembered that because the dataset we are using here is limited to writers connected to theosophy, Pankhurst’s relationships to people absent from this subset cannot be represented in this graph; a graph of all her relationships withinOrlandowould be more extensive.


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"short video"

"Dataset Selection Frame"

"Initial Graph of Theosophy Dataset"

"Tag Selection Pane"

"Graph of Theosophy Dataset with Winnowed Tags"

"Graph with <responses>, <politics>, and <family> Tags Selected"

"Graph with <politics> Tags Selected"

"Graph of Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence in Highlight Mode"

"Graph of Pethick-Lawrence in Highlight Mode with Nodes Linked"

"Graph of Emmeline Pankhurst in Highlight Mode"

"Text Feature"

"Figure 4.1"

"Graph with <politics>, <leisureandsociety>, <friendsassociates>, <intimate relations>, and <family> Tags Selected"

"Graph with <politics>, <leisureandsociety>, <friendsassociates>, <intimate relations>, and <family> Tags Selected in Highlight Mode"