Digital Projects of the Consortium and Related Victoriana

Jane Welsh Carlyle in the Age of Digital Humanities

    I am happy to announce, belatedly, the publication of a great piece of scholarship by two USC graduate students who have worked on the Victorian Lives and Letters Consortium and the Carlyle Letters Online over the past few years, Travis Mullen and Rachel Mann. In their recent article, “Jane Welsh Carlyle’s Social Network and the Lexical Construction of ‘Home,” Mullen and Mann employed computational methodologies alongside traditional close reading to examine Jane Welsh Carlyle’s correspondence across Volumes 1 through 42 of the Carlyle Letters. Using LDA topic modeling to reveal recurring patterns and words, Social Network Analysis to connect Welsh Carlyle’s recipients to the topics produced by the LDA, and Key Words in Context to analyze the words most closely associated with a concept, Mullen and Mann show how Jane Welsh Carlyle “used the letter as a way to enter the public sphere and conceived of home as a kind of figurative hub created by and embodied in the act of writing a sending a letter.” This, Mullen and Mann contend, complicates early criticism of Jane Welsh Carlyle as a figure of piety and work to parse what more recent scholarly work has suggested is a conflicted identity. For the complete article, see: http://tundra.csd.sc.edu/vllc/articles/31/vol31-5.pdf.

Early Humanities Computing and Carlyleana

    We’re pleased to announce, in the first post in our Digital Humanities Projects feed, a fantastic story about a now-retired USC professor. Robert Lee Oakman (ret. 2001) was a true pioneer of computational text analysis – decades before the term “digital humanities” had even been coined. Oakman incorporated collation and stylistic analysis of the Carlyle Letters from the very beginning of his career onward. In his Ph.D. dissertation (1971), Syntax in the Prose Style of Thomas Carlyle: A Quantitative, Linguistic Analysis, Oakman analyzed 200 randomly selected paragraphs from the entirety of Carlyle’s corpus. Using computational, syntactic analysis, he identified stylistically significant elements of Carlyle’s syntax, while simultaneously arguing for the importance of large-scale syntactic analysis in prose studies. A full copy of Syntax in the Prose Style of Thomas Carlyle can be found in the Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global database.