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CFP: Data Visualization in Eighteenth-Century Studies

Data Visualization in Eighteenth-Century Studies

deadline for submissions: June 15, 2018

full name / name of organization: Ileana Baird / Zayed University

contact email:

Submissions are being sought for a collection of essays tentatively titled Data Visualization in Eighteenth-Century Studies. The main goal of this collection is to bring to light new research that involves the use of visualizations in approaching eighteenth-century texts and cultural phenomena (graphs, maps, geospatial representations, social networks, data mapping, and/or any patterns of intellectual exchange presented in a visual form).

With the work of the Scottish inventor and engineer William Playfair, the Enlightenment gave us the first infographics —line graphs, bar charts, pie charts, and circle graphs—and opened the new field of graphical methods in statistics. Since then, the need to investigate large data sets and the development of new analytical tools has led to what has been called the “computational turn” (Burkholder, 1992) in thought and research, or the “third wave” of digital humanities (Berry, 2011). Big data analysis has emerged as a system of knowledge that is already changing its object of knowledge, shedding new light on human networks and unveiling information that is structurally embedded in its object of study (be it a text or not) but not obvious or immediately legible given the sheer amount and complexity of data. As Franco Moretti pointed out, maps can offer a new “model of the narrative universe” by highlighting “hidden patterns” of contact and exchange. Representing data visually allows researchers to make connections not only between pieces of data—about an individual, about individuals in relation to others, about groups of people, about spatial and/or temporal dynamics—but also about the structure of information itself. It is the intention of the editor to to explore some of these new interpretive possibilities by sharing innovative work employing data visualizations applied to the field of eighteenth-century studies.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • particular case studies (using visualizations to analyze texts, social movements, human / commercial / epistolary networks, etc.)

  • charting changes in style, genre, fashions, and cultural trends;

  • challenges and/or benefits of using visualizations in research and/or teaching;

  • the insights that data visualization can give into literary studies or cultural phenomena;

  • data visualization as a tool to communicate (big) data;

  • social, textual, and spatial networks;

  • data visualization and (de-centering) the canon;

  • the challenge of legibility when representing big data (visual scalability);

  • underlying biases embedded in analyzing (big) data;

  • possibilities offered by big data for understanding human interactions at a societal scale;

  • issues one must consider when thinking about representing data visually;

  • creative uses of digital tools for teaching and research;

  • beautiful visualizations.

Please send abstracts of 300-500 words and a brief bio to Ileana Baird at by June 15, 2018. The deadline for chapters (cca 8,000 words) will be September 15, 2018.


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