Seeing Stories: A look at character threads in Bandamanna saga

Carrie Roy
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Scandinavian Studies

If you could see a story, what would it look like? This project is intended to develop a new mode of viewing narratives by creating a visualization of the role of social bonds and character interactions that influence events over the course of a narrative. The data set is from a medieval Icelandic saga, called The Saga of the Confederates (Bandamanna saga), and focuses on shifting allegiances among characters through court cases, murders, and strained family relationships. The text is delineated as a timeline that runs down the length of the visualization, making the entire narrative accessible from any point along the visualization. Character attributes incorporated into each character thread node (through color, pattern, size, transparency, etc.) include gender, social bonds, ancestry, status, centrality, dialogue, activity and more. Challenges in representing so many characters with complex relationships may be addressed through incorporating three dimensional representation. The longterm goal of this project is to develop an interactive tool that helps scholars see the narrative shape and character attributes while simultaneously being able to access the text–aiding research efficiency and also introducing new ways of viewing and comparing narrative structure across different texts, genres, regions, and periods.

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