Network Analysis for Topic Detection in Eighteenth-Century Novels

Mark Vareschi
University of Texas at San Antonio
Literatures in English

Our project draws on a corpus of approximately one hundred British novels dating between 1700 and 1800. The novel in England is said to have its origins in the early eighteenth century and by the end of the period coheres in its modern, recognizable form. In our work we seek to extract topic models from these novels in order to identify dominant and reoccurring literary devices along with those outliers that do not seem to contribute to, or survive in, the novel’s formal development. Network analysis tools are used to develop and visualize the topic models of the novels. Through this analysis and visualization we reveal the manner in which the novels of the British eighteenth century group themselves and change over time in order to offer a different means of narrating the rise of the novel.

Robin Valenza (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Co-Author

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