“Remapping Leigh Hunt’s Circles” is an ambitious project that explores Leigh Hunt’s central position in the London literary and critical scene of the first half of the nineteenth century, through the lens of digital humanities tools. Hunt is today considered one of the key figures of the Romantic period in England, known for his work as editor, journalist, poet, and facilitator. Numerous articles, essay collections, biographies, and monographs published in the last fifteen years have made this clear. Hunt's contribution to Romantic and Victorian literature was as extensive as it has proven durable, in matters as various as prosodic experimentation and the modernization of the magazine essay. Yet little work (beyond some biographical notes) has been done on the second half of his life, a period that was as productive as the first, and during which Hunt was intimate with many of the finest writers of the time, and continued to contribute to London’s literary circles through the ongoing publication of critical essays in periodicals and anthologies. This project aims to redress this imbalance/oversight and reassert Hunt’s place in the Romantic and Victorian eras, as well as his continuing significance for understanding the London literary scene between 1805 (publication of his first critical essay) and 1859 (date of his death, with his last article published only a few weeks before).
“Remapping Leigh Hunt’s Circles” makes a case for Hunt’s position as a key critical voice in London beyond his already established prominence during the Examiner years. It does so through a careful analysis of his critical reviews and essays (with a specific focus on his drama criticism to underscore Hunt’s ongoing engagement with the public sphere) published during his entire career, which spanned the first half of the nineteenth century. Data mining and textual analysis offer exciting opportunities to bring together different sets of data which, when prepared to the highest standard of text encoding, can yield new and innovative results that encourage reconsideration of preconceived notions regarding the transfer of ideas from one author to another, or one literary genre to another. The results of the research undertaken in “Remapping Leigh Hunt’s Circles” will be presented in a collaborative, visual context that reimagines the digital scholarly edition as a transparent workspace in which established primary objects from existing databases can be gathered, organized, correlated, annotated, and augmented by multiple users in a dynamic environment.
All the texts prepared for inclusion in our project are encoded to the Text-Encoding-Initiative (TEI) standards. The mark-up language and quality controls for improving metadata in all the resources provide more accurate search and discovery, allow for the presentation of well-supported content on multiple devices and develop tools for assembling, archiving and indexing research objects and artifacts. Ongoing work on this platform will enable researchers to undertake world-class research by providing the means to link data-sets to published content, encouraging data reanalysis, replication studies, and data re-purposing, all of which improve research quality and efficiency.
Our poster will report on the first year of this project, and the implementation of the latest version of the Voyant Tools to examine the dramatic essays written by Hunt between 1805 and 1813 (when he was sentenced to two years in prison for libel against the Prince Regent). We will showcase in particular two aspects of the integration between the Hunt archives and Voyant Tools. First, the ability to identify and visualize named entity connections and their networks across multiple documents (this a refinement of the previous RezoViz tool in Voyant). The Hunt collection presents an ideal corpus for network exploration given the interconnectedness of the people, locations and events that animate the documents. Second, Voyant provides a generic and customizable way of presenting a web-based corpus catalogue with the same kinds of faceted browsing and advanced querying capabilities we have come to expect from library databases and online stores. A further benefit of this functionality is the ability to create dynamic subsets of a corpus to examine more closely (in other words, using a catalogue skin in Voyant to create worksets destined for Voyant’s more conventional analytic skin).
The “Remapping Leigh Hunt’s Circles” is essentially a project of digital text editing and literary criticism whereas Voyant Tools is essentially a software platform for reading, analyzing and visualizing digital texts. These are separate traditions and separate concerns, but this poster will demonstrate the value of symbiotic development: both projects benefit from the collaboration.