All posts by Safa Alhathani

Analysis of Romanticism in Frankenstein Through Digital Tools

 

This proposal would be an outline for understanding and analyzing the Romantic trends Mary Shelley incorporates in Frankenstein through technological tools. Through technology, analyzing novels becomes easier and more efficient. It is a new method to studying novels in literature courses, whereas the “old” method requires intense, close readings to find key words and themes in the text. Instead, I will be reading digital texts and novels and analyzing them through a program called Voyant Tools. Voyant Tools is a web-based text reading and analysis program. It is a program that is designed to make reading and interpretive practices easier for humanities students and the general public. The program allows me to find key terms and themes simply by typing what I want to find in the search bar. This is a quick and efficient way to closely read texts. This method of close reading for digital texts through Voyant Tools allows me to study the Romantic ideas in Frankenstein.

https://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=6fa4972ffdfbd13fbc93ee7eef21ed10&query=%22wild%20and%22

 

Romanticism was an intellectual movement that was born from opposition to Enlightenment views that emphasized reason, knowledge, and science. In contrast, Romanticism focused on feelings, love, and imagination. One key example of a romantic literary work is the novel Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley.

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1818, which became her most famous work that embodied Romanticism. Victor Frankenstein, the main character, is a romantic character because he represents the Romantic ideals of imagination and innovation. Other examples of Romanticism in the novel appear when Shelley incorporates vivid imagery of nature. Throughout the novel, Shelley describes the awesomeness of nature. The feelings of Shelley’s characters often copy the state of nature around them. For example, the icy descriptions of the land where Walton goes to and where the monster retreats emphasizes the monster’s loneliness. The dreary landscape can also mirror the isolation that Walton felt when he traveled into this cold land in the beginning of the book. Another example is the scene where Victor wakes up with regret after creating his monster. He reflects that the morning is “dismal and wet” (Shelley) and he begins to fear his own creation. Shelley repeats this theme where weather conditions are similar to Victor’s feelings and thoughts. These descriptions of nature, parallel to a number of emotions that are expressed by the characters, help solidify Frankenstein as one of the greatest Romantic novel of its time.

 

Voyant Tools-horror, creatures

In Voyant Tools, the “trends chart” shows the frequency of the words ‘horror’ and ‘creature’ in the novel. They fluctuate simultaneously as parallel themes throughout the novel, which shows that the words must be related in that horror is caused by the creature. However, the creature is more horrified than Victor Frankenstein himself. Through close readings in the “Key words in context” tool, of the novel shows through keywords in the context tool in Voyant Tools, the creature is shown to be more horrified than Victor himself. This close reading proves that there is a difference between the words found in context and the words graphed on the trend chart. In Frankenstein corpus, the “Terms Berry” tool shows common words such as wild, wood, and the sea. I misinterpreted the word “wild” in the novel because I thought it was associated with the description of the creature, when in fact, the “Key words in Context” tool showed that wild described the landscape of Frankenstein. Trends may misrepresent the Romanticism imagery in the trends graph, however it is impossible to go wrong with understanding the meaning of words, such as wild, because they are explicitly stated in the text.Voyant Tools-horror, creatures

The combination of technology and digital tools in studying the language in Frankenstein improved the efficiency of my analysis of the novel. Through Voyant Tools, I was able to easily identify key terms and locate trends throughout the novel that embodied Romanticism.

Digital Tools in Teaching Literature.

This proposal would be an outline for my research on developing new methods for teaching freshmen students the basics in literature. The syllabus covers classic novels. Students must choose one novel to focus on during the semester and they must follow the teacher’s sample. For example, I chose Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The project is based on a digital mapping of the book. This map identifies the main character, themes, writing style, and the author’s biography. The highlight of this course is to cover the literature in periods of time like Victorian, Romanticism, or Renaissance eras. Covering essential arts during these eras with historical and social influences can be overwhelming for first year college students. Therefore, the visibility of themes in many novels presented by maps makes analysis understandable. Also, students get a better understanding of the specific terms from the assigned novels that the course aims to convey. Students may notice at the end of their graphs the common themes, motifs, and the metaphoric language which concludes the purpose of this course. Students will closely read their novel to analyze the biography of the writer, the characters in the novel, the thematic proposals, and the symbolic images. They are expected to find these elements and digitally place them in their maps. In the Frankenstein example, the student will explain the novel and discuss with the rest of the class why Shelley made two versions of Frankenstein and her other decisions. Students can examine the social, historical, and economical interactions that toned Frankenstein. John A. Walsh, in his article Multimedia and Multitasking: A Survey of Digital Resources for Nineteenth-Century Literary Studies, says “When studying a work of digital literature, as with any cultural artifact, we must choose where to focus our attention.”  The outcome of this specific map is to show a novel on one screen. It goes beyond the novel to discuss the ideas of it and approach the literary aspects that develops a clear visualization of intangible themes of that Romanticism era.

In Frankenstein, as Shelley picks up the Romantic language style in science fiction, she maintains the biblical traditions and social concerns by quoting Paradise Lost. Even though it is not explicitly stated in the course goals, linking the literature period acts as a platform in studying literature. In reading novels, the reader draws an imaginary graph in his or her mind. This graph links the character in the novel to their actions and links the novel with the author’s life to the surrounding world. This psychologic process allows the reader to imagine the novel and its history, yet with advanced technology today, this can be drawn into reality as a tree or map. By using these tools, students can express their visualization of novels and transfer their thoughts to practical arguments. There is no doubt that these graphs can be debated for their vagueness. However, using digital tools to graph these novels has overcome this issue. Creating digital graphs about a novel where the student can insert website links, explanatory notes, and related topics presents the novel perfectly. Tools such as MindView, TimeLine, and Ngram Viewer are new ways that benefit not only the literature course but digital humanities as a whole. In reading the two editions of Frankenstein, students will begin with comparing the digital version verses the paper copy one. This process can be time consuming, but surprisingly it is the opposite. In fact, students can learn about a number of novels and achieve the goal of the course faster. Due to the simplicity and efficiency of digital tools, students can calculate the language and locate information with primary tools for the course clearly. In the beginning, MindView can be used as a tool where students will learn how to build a digital map of Frankenstein. They can use Ngram to make a clear comparison of the 1818 and 1831 editions and the changes that Shelley took. Also, they can use TimeLine to identify setting and how the changes affect the reading of the text. Towards the end of the course, students can download MapView as a PDF to outline their thesis paper as well as a PowerPoint copy to present to their class. By using these three tools, students can enhance their understanding of the course. Therefore, this will enhance their creativity in writings as well. In conclusion, technology would be beneficial for humanities studies because it would make literature more engaging and interesting to learn.

Bibliography

Moretti, Franco. “Patterns and Interpretation.” Literary Lab Pamphlet, Sept. 2015, doi:ISSN 2164-1757.

Damian-Grint, Peter, Eighteenth-Century Literature in English and Other languages: Image, Text, and Hyertext. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

http://digitalhumanities.org:3030/companion/view?docId=blackwell/9781405148641/9781405148641.xml&chunk.id=ss1-4-4&toc.depth=1&toc.id=ss1-4-4&brand=9781405148641_brand

Saltz, David Z, Multimedia and Multitasking: A Survey of Digital Resources for Nineteenth-Century Literary Studies. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

http://digitalhumanities.org:3030/companion/view?docId=blackwell%2F9781405148641%2F9781405148641.xml&chunk.id=ss1-4-5&query=with+any+cultural+artifact

Saltz, David Z, Digital Literary Studies: Performance and Interaction. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

http://digitalhumanities.org:3030/companion/view?docId=blackwell/9781405148641/9781405148641.xml&chunk.id=ss1-5-12&toc.depth=1&toc.id=ss1-5-12&brand=9781405148641_brand

Wittern, Christian, Character Encoding. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

http://digitalhumanities.org:3030/companion/view?docId=blackwell/9781405148641/9781405148641.xml&chunk.id=ss1-6-12&toc.depth=1&toc.id=ss1-6-12&brand=9781405148641_brand

Patterns and Interpretation in Visualizing Literary Work…

As much as I enjoyed visualizing Frankenstein and other novels with the help of a computer, I still feel like those images are vague to the reader. Why? Regardless of the quantity or the quality of the information in my visualization, it will not make comprehensible connections. When I take a look at my visualizations from Absalom! Absalom! and Frankenstein, I see that they are filled up with words. However, what I tried to convey in these images is the connection between the words  and their meanings which should enhance our understanding of the literary works. However, these images are vague without further explanation of how they fit into the story as a whole.

Seeking for resolutions, I have the answers for that issue in “Literary lab: Patterns and Interpretation” by Franco Moretti. The article explains why visualizing literature is not efficient: “it challenges the literature’s abstract patterns, interpretation, explanations of form and history, and noise.” In spite of well-organized abbreviated patterns in the literary charts, Moretti claims that these images appeared chaotically to the audience because it discharged a major element “the correlations”. He argues that there is no way to get the gist of a novel from its list of individual components (Moretti 2). In order to make sense of these components, they must be followed up with their narratives sentence. Moretti explains in “Patterns and Interpretation” why I cannot articulate literary analysis in charts: “What is at stake is not reading, it’s the continuity between reading and (a certain kind of) knowledge.” (Moretti 2). He points out the difficulty of reading facts from a visualized text and relating it to the text itself.

First, the author finds reading abstracted figures of a digital? text puzzling and meaningless. Moretti criticizes literary visualization because it deals with single words on the text which leave us with the calculations of the words in the text. Nevertheless, in reading diagrams, words ratio of a text impacts our concept of that text. For example, without reading Frankenstein we might misinterpret the concept of the horror images in the novel just by collecting computationally the words “Murder” and “Creature,” where there is more analysis into it. The writer also “challenges computational criticism” not only for changing the meaning of the object, it presents unsequenced events that misconceive the meaning of the novel in general (3). He supports his argument about “computational criticism” with the fact that it encounters the foundation of a literary text which is “communicative events”, or it cannot narrate these events in which it relevant to.

Second, Moretti debates the objectivity of repetition of patterns in literary figures. He supports his argument in two views; syntactic view and semantic view. Syntactically, he explains how patterns misrepresent 19-century literature since the sentence style of that era uses both dependent clauses and independent clauses. Patterns work on dividing these sentences which results in semantic loss (2). Patterns miss the sentence basic “sequence”, and therefore, it remains with no meaning. Moretti added “patterns are real, but never perfect” (3).

Finally, Moretti reveals that computational criticism affects our interpretation of a text. Simply, because it subjective. He points out that our responsive thoughts of words on literary figure differs, thereby, we grasp the wrong meaning. Moretti derives the multi-interpretations of the text from Schleiermacher, arguing that we have to be “aware that our reflection on meaning may take two very different directions: dictionary meaning, or meaning-in-context” (Moretti 6). To avoid text misinterpretations, Schleiermacher claims that we must study meaning of the words individually and in relation to the text .

To sum up with Moretti’s critiques of computational criticism, I must highlight his comparison between science figures and the literary ones. He argues that in visualizing literary texts with the help of computers, we are missing elements such theories, models, and explanations. Digital humanities are required to create common key words and then use them officially in visualizing literary work.    

what’s digital books missing..

Even though I like having an actual book in my hand to read, reading books online is way easier. It is accessible anytime anywhere since we need technology on a daily basis. So, I get to read my online book whenever I want.

 

Since I’m an international student, I am always on the move. Traveling would be difficult if I had to carry the number of physical books that are in my electronic library. I get the chance to read for hours during my long trips when I travel not only physically but also thoughtfully. When I am trapped in an airport all day, I cannot do daily tasks [routine interrupted]; this perhaps has unconsciously increased my ability to focus on the text word by word and as a whole. More importantly, reading a book on devices goes beyond reading only one book. For instance, I can look up words meaning, quotes, and names which fulfills my curiosity. My thirst for learning the language and enhancing my knowledge can be bound together in reading an electronic book. When I’m reading online, `I don’t need to carry a notebook and a pen; `I can make notes on the electronic book, giving me the flexibility to mark pages, highlight passages, or underline sentences without permanently marking the book. At first, it seems unfortunate for me that devices have replaced books in my hand but once I use them for same purpose I felt less guilty. Besides, electronic books have freed my hand from holding physical books in a time that devices such as computers and smart phones are demanding my daily life. Through these devises I could dive in to massive information in the internet that are related to my interests. Undoubtedly, electronic books or what is called “E-books” not only provided me with accessible facts but it have saved my time searching for them.

 

I was hesitant to use technology in my earliest academic years yet these reasons have urged me to learn how to use it. I admit, I get really disturbed from the pop ads or apps update. However, despite the technical problems that may accrue, it is still considerably manageable. To be honest, I mostly use electronic version books for academic purposes. Honestly, I do get actual books for my own pleasure specially the classic ones such Frankenstein.

 

With all the benefits that I get from reading digital books yet reading a physical book is kind of essential for me because it has more intimacy. Books mean more than a book to me because I adore the art in it. And for this reason, I still get a hard copy for my favorite books anyway. With physical books, I feel that the writer is speaking to me directly. But far from my emotions, reading Frankenstein in both ways I have found for the first time what’s in the physical book that I did not find in digital book. First, digital ones are not always accurate. For example, I have found that the audio digital edition is missing the narration of one chapter. Also, most of the digital editions come without footnote which I found very useful on the hard copy. The “word natural philosophy” was defined in the footnote as natural science, also, some of the famous scientists and philosophers that been referred to in the novel that I would not comprehend the novel if I read it only in the digital one. This kind of information probably is not hard to understand for native English speakers but it certainly important to non-native ones.

 

In the end, I realized that digital books are respectfully satisfying in our contemporary world yet the necessity for physical books are as equally important to those who their intentions are more than reading for pleasure.

Map the invisibility in Absalom! Absalom! …

I remember when I saw the map of Yoknapatawpha County in Absalom! Absalom! by Faulkner; using this map I was able to find where and why these themes occur. Eventually, I ended up creating my literary map. This novel has taken me to this imaginary county and made me visualize the events that happened in the novel. However, after reading Maps by Morretti, I think that maps can go beyond geography in the literary works. I can visualize a map about pretty much everything in a novel, as it’s another way to analyze a certain aspect deeply in a literary text. It is not just a map of a place, it can describe the relation between characters, the distance between those characters, and the connection of the social-economic elements of that place in that time.  For example, mapping relationships between the characters Absalom! Absalom! and what affect them? Or whether the distance between them has affected the communication? Moretti points out how mapping elements such as material or space is not materialist nor geographic, but the literary map can actually show us the social, economic, and faith factors that is a part of this “system of geography.” By linking all these details, I can analyze Absalom! Absalom! visually and therefore, more easily. In Faulkner’s novel, the county was totally imaginary, however it is a duplication of events in Lafayette county, Mississippi during slavery in United States. `in mapping this county, I can link the social, economic factors that influenced both counties and what both factors meant to serve.

By using MindView application, I want to compare how plantation had served as an economic factor to Lafayette county while it served as theme in Yoknapatawpha County. This mind view layout should help students link the purpose of these factors in regard of socio-economic necessity and how it reflected on the society. When student study this novel, they will understand what the outcomes of these aspects and how it been developed as literary themes in the novel; moreover, they can refer to the geographical historical elements related to U.S. history.

Absalom! Absalom! Absalom! Absalom!

It is quality of connections that maps can show. connecting what had affected this imaginative county and the actual one could be hard specially in Absalom! Absalom! It is complicated novel with advanced language can prevent students from reaching this connection, which can definitely enhance their understanding from literature and social perspectives. This detailed information can be misunderstood or ignored by students when they are studying fictional readings. Morretti emphasizes the importance of mapping as “a good way to prepare a text for analysis.” The way that map can give the students/readers a view distance that can synthesize a particular view in a particular subject.

  

Visualizing knowledge in Frankenstein!

Visualizing knowledge in Frankenstein!

When I found out that we would study Frankenstein for this course, I thought that we should study new trending literary work that interests this generation in order to highlight the importance of digitalizing humanities. Thus, I thought that Frankenstein would be too dated for this generation of readers. Due to advancements in technology in which our ideas, our interests, and our language have changed accordingly, Frankenstein seems to lack modern words and themes, such as science and consciousness. Surprisingly, I have found reading Frankenstein pleasurable, as it implies interesting story themes that are still debated today; for example, battle between fate and science, and the words that is usable in our daily life like electricity. Frankenstein is a Romantic novel by all means. This was very obvious to me from the beginning. The novel has Romantic language, passive voice of women, and natural influences; however, it debates ideas and questions of our life. In the book Graphs Maps Trees, Moretti emphasizes the three stages that govern the period 1710 to the 1850 are featured in the “social role of the novel” (P.7). Between 1820-1900, reading topics and novels such as “nautical tales, sporting novels, school stories, mysteries” was viral (P.8). The fact that Frankenstein has almost included all these topics has arisen its popularity. More importantly, the similarity between Frankenstein’s topics and topics in novels published today are clearly the reason that makes Frankenstein a life time novel. However, what interests me the most is how Shelly developed themes like fate, conciseness, and science that are debatable to us. I was curious to envision what makes the eighteenth century novel Frankenstein sounds like novel of our time? I used Google Ngram to calculate the use of these term through the fluctuation of the time 1800-2000.
Google Ngram Viewer, new themes
As the graph shows the use of consciousness, fate, and science in books since 1800, I can see the correlation between these themes visually. Nevertheless, the way that these words ranged around 20%-70% in 1800 and all have increased 30%-90% evidences my claim. In the chart above, the increases of science and consciousness respectively shows the reflection of the science on the individuals and vice versa. On the contrary, fate decreases accordingly due to the growth of science and consciousness. Since the use of revolutionary tools people believe in their abilities that can come close to the Creator. By visualizing this graph, I think I can articulate my conclusion regarding these three themes. First, it has proven to me that in developing science in any society, individuals create internal consciousness that challenge their beliefs. Second, due to this conflict between internal beliefs and scientific facts, doubting fate is naturally predicted. I think it would be hard to structure these results; therefore, digitalizing and visualizing literary text is another way of studying humanity sciences. As Piazza said, “what follows is to lay these out as a contribution to an interdisciplinary discussion, in the conviction that literary writing can be construed as a system that is not bound by the particular instruments it has itself created, and is therefore capable of metabolizing metaphors and ambiguities belonging to several systems of knowledge. I will add that the system of scientific knowledge” (P.95).

A Gallery about Frankenstein…

Some courses like history literature have the essence of traditions and cultures. I remembered when I was studying Shakespeare in my undergraduate, I carried a huge book that has most of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. When it comes to reading assignments and research papers, the would spend days at the library looking for resources and materials. It took more time and efforts, but on the bright side, this “old school” way of doing course tasks was indeed confidential. In my present day, specially, with taking technology for college literature and writing course as one of my graduate courses, it draws my attention on how important to enforce technology in literature studies. When such valuable sources are available in a touch of button that will not only save my time but it will give me the opportunity to be more critical in my writing. So, it seems for a moment that engaging technology in teaching these courses can be difficult.  However, with the use of technology in this course I have noticed that participation in the class can be more efficient throughout class blog post and comments. As a foreigner student, finding the right sources online and be aware with correct information can be overwhelming and for that I think participating in the same assignment would be helpful.  This has given me a chance to see what my instructor and classmates have recommended in regards of literature wed sites.

 

In reading Frankenstein, I have found trouble finding the right version specially the digital ones.as I mentioned in the previous class discussion, some of the online versions missed parts in novel that I think is essential in studying literature. Despite of the reliability of these websites, accessing them can be problematic due to the student’s limited budget. Unfortunately, few are free and fewer are efficient. As a result of that, searching for resources online was time consuming. To prevent these issues, I think students must be aware of how they would know the reliable and accessible resources online. In the beginnings of any literary course, students must go through an introductory class that teaches them how to find the resources to benefit them in their study. For instance, at the beginning of each literature course, there is a part that covers online sources. This introduction contains how to find the right resources for literature subjects. As much as I’ve been taught how to cite my resources, I never had a course that taught me how to find the best ones for me.

Students who study literature can expand their knowledge not only by researching for information, they also can discuss what resources have been useful for them. This will narrow them down for the most accessible and reliable source. In my undergrad course Shakespeare, for example, my classmate used google documents to share some of articles and topics that may benefit our course subject. It is a pity that this collaboration was accessible for one group during that semester. Similarly, Frankenstein seems to have many articles and books online about it. Therefore, I suggest that creating one website that has the top Frankenstein’s resources. When these recourses are evaluated academically, our class will find this site effective to use. Nonetheless, adding other topic-related materials such as graphs, pictures or movies as visual resources since Frankenstein has many images would be more valuable. Also, what might be great to add is a biography of the writer which will gives better sense in study the novel.  Having all these resources in one site serves as a gallery of Frankenstein it not only enhances the class creativity, but also engage Frankenstein digitally. This way I think literature students will get the best of technology aids as they work together in building their own reliable and accessible digital library for each subject.

What’s digital books missing..

Even though I like having an actual book in my hand to read, reading books online is way easier. It is accessible anytime anywhere since we need technology on a daily basis. So, I get to read my online book whenever I want.

Since I’m an international student, I am always on the move. Traveling would be difficult if I had to carry the number of physical books that are in my electronic library. I get the chance to read for hours during my long trips when I travel not only physically but also thoughtfully. When I am trapped in an airport all day, I cannot do daily tasks [routine interrupted]; this perhaps has unconsciously increased my ability to focus on the text word by word and as a whole. More importantly, reading a book on devices goes beyond reading only one book. For instance, I can look up words meaning, quotes, and names which fulfills my curiosity. My thirst for learning the language and enhancing my knowledge can be bound together in reading an electronic book. When I’m reading online, `I don’t need to carry a notebook and a pen; `I can make notes on the electronic book, giving me the flexibility to mark pages, highlight passages, or underline sentences without permanently marking the book. At first, it seems unfortunate for me that devices have replaced books in my hand but once I use them for same purpose I felt less guilty. Besides, electronic books have freed my hand from holding physical books in a time that devices such as computers and smart phones are demanding my daily life. Through these devises I could dive in to massive information in the internet that are related to my interests. Undoubtedly, electronic books or what is called “E-books” not only provided me with accessible facts but it have saved my time searching for them.

I was hesitant to use technology in my earliest academic years yet these reasons have urged me to learn how to use it. I admit, I get really disturbed from the pop ads or apps update. However, despite the technical problems that may accrue, it is still considerably manageable. To be honest, I mostly use electronic version books for academic purposes. Honestly, I do get actual books for my own pleasure specially the classic ones such Frankenstein.

With all the benefits that I get from reading digital books yet reading a physical book is kind of essential for me because it has more intimacy. Books mean more than a book to me because I adore the art in it. And for this reason, I still get a hard copy for my favorite books anyway. With physical books, I feel that the writer is speaking to me directly. But far from my emotions, reading Frankenstein in both ways I have found for the first time what’s in the physical book that I did not find in digital book. First, digital ones are not always accurate. For example, I have found that the audio digital edition is missing the narration of one chapter. Also, most of the digital editions come without footnote which I found very useful on the hard copy. The “word natural philosophy” was defined in the footnote as natural science, also, some of the famous scientists and philosophers that been referred to in the novel that I would not comprehend the novel if I read it only in the digital one. This kind of information probably is not hard to understand for native English speakers but it certainly important to non-native ones.

In the end, I realized that digital books are respectfully satisfying in our contemporary world yet the necessity for physical books are as equally important to those who their intentions are more than reading for pleasure.