Nation, Genre and Gender - Demo

A Comparative Social Network Analysis of Irish and British Fiction, 1800-1922

Nation, Genre and Gender is a three-year project which was awarded to Professor Gerardine Meaney in December 2013 and is funded by the Irish Research Council. The project is being undertaken by members of the UCD Humanities Institute, in collaboration with researchers from Insight @ UCD.

Drawing on existing online resources under creative Commons License and through digitisation as required, this project aims to examine a large corpus of Irish and British novels from the period 1800-1922. It will use this corpus to identify key representative and influential texts for social network analysis, generate visualisations of networks and their development, apply intersectional (gender, class, ethnicity) analysis to network components, correlate with location based metadata and engage in intensive critical analysis.

The project's overarching goal is to compare gender, genre and the nationality of the author (or setting) in shaping social networks in fiction. Do the social networks mapped out by cumulative interactions between characters in Irish and British fiction differ from one another? Do the social networks represented in fiction differ substantially on the basis of genre or gender? How does this change across the time period? The aim of the project is not to substitute a quantitative, computational approach for a critical and interpretative one, but to explore ways in which these two approaches can be combined.

This combination of digital and critical methodologies offers a way of researching the development of the novel in this period which can realistically and judiciously deal with the radically extended canon of fiction, with its diversity of voices, genres and perspectives. The historical range offers the opportunity for a longitudinal, transhistorical analysis which can identify consistencies and changes. Does a map of social networks show distinctive patterns of aggregate character interaction characteristic of domestic and social realism? Are there specific characteristics of social networks as represented in gothic, "national tales", modernist and popular genre? Is the gender of the author and/or the main protagonist significant?

This demonstration site includes a subset of the corpus consisting of 12 annotated novels, which can be explored in detail here. For more information, visit the project website.