Gavin 2016

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Gavin, Michael. "Historical Text Networks: The Sociology of Early English Criticism." Eighteenth-Century Studies. 50.1 (Fall 2016): 53-80.

'historical text networks -- instead of "social network analysis"

in 1690s "criticism" emerged -- "what changed?"

"most early literary criticism was devoted to the recption and distribution of individual plays and books. Rather than an author/public dyad, the social structure delineated by paratextual criticism bound poets within a web of others: not only other writers, but also politicians, stationers, and players, as well as writers from earlier eras and foreign places. Criticism was the metadiscourse of the literary marketplace. For this reason, changes in criticism can be tracked by examining changes in the relationships that criticism was employed to enact." (53)

"I experiment with a method that transforms publication metadata and the results of text analyses into network graphs" (53)

interested in network around William Congreve

"This chart does not display Congreve’s social networks in the colloquial sense. Only some of these people were Congreve’s actual associates. Instead, it maps the persons involved in books that involve Congreve. Such involvement could take a number of forms. These nodes include authors who contributed to books alongside Congreve, printers and booksellers listed in his imprints, performers of his prologues and epilogues, and patrons to whom his dedications were addressed. The links (called “edges”) that connect these nodes represent the documents in which these various people were involved."

using the model to ask: "how were publications by dramatists and other poets situated iwthin the larger print marketplace? second, how did paratextual criticism change over time between 1660 and 1700? and third, how did women's contributions differ from men's?" (55)

"the Resotration period witnessed a transformation in the material condition of literary knowledge. Criticism became 'modern' not when 'literature as such' consolidated into a coherent and discrete category, nor when the discourse was institutionalized in review magazines or unviersity departments, but rather when it was first recognized as a general social pattern that transcended the disagreements of individual poets and could be understood instead as the textualized condition of literary knowledge in general" (55-6)

"From this perspective, a quantitative study of historical text networks promises a more sustained and rigorously theorized attention to structure than is possible with micro-historical case studies alone.6 From another perspective, it also joins a parallel, converging development in the social sciences—probably less familiar to humanists—that quantitatively models symbolism and narrative, topics conventionally associated with ethnography and qualitative discourse analysis." (56)

"The larger purpose of the historical text network model is to reconcile two kinds of quantitative study (social network modeling and text analysis) with two kinds of qualitative interpretation (close read- ing and bibliographical contextualization), while giving researchers the freedom to move easily in and out of different modes and different scales of analysis." (57)

extracted paratexts from EEBO-TCP data then topic modeled with MALLET

stationers names aren't regularized; used pattern-matching algorithm to find matches with the British Book Trade Index

only 4% of entities were women

"Because of the dispersed nature of patronage and because prologues and epilogues were often performed individually, women tend to be scattered throughout the network, often assuming important positions in local contexts among men, but, except in the extraordinary case of Aphra Behn, they are rarely connected to other women. These numbers testify to the importance of supplementing existing metadata: a good-faith effort to find the women ignored by earlier cataloguers should be standard practice for historical network analysis." (58)

"Text-network analysis reconceives books as relational data, and therin lies its primary methodological innovation." (59) -- McKenzie "sociology of texts" -- adapting this notion, "the model defines books as points of connection that bind together their various makers" (59)

links between people bear attributes that interpret corresponding edges (59)

hypotheses: "These conditions suggest three general hypotheses that a network analysis of paratextual writing might address: first, that poets and other people involved in the marketplace for printed drama will cluster together as a community within the larger dataset; second, that the paratexts published within this community will exhibit markedly different lexical patterns from those in other communities; and third, that these patterns will reflect an unusually strong interest in topics we might retrospectively label “literary criticism” and “court politics."" (61)

" It has become something of a dogma in the historiography of criticism that Restoration poets were actively engaged with state politics, and this view is confirmed in the model. Perennial concerns that religious factions were sowing rebellion appear very clearly in the data, for example, as do reactions to the Popish Plot, even if affairs of state are generally subordinated to other subjects." (65)

"Critical paratexts increased greatly in number, and they were distributed among a much larger network of producers and interlocutors. By the 1690s criticism displayed a much more widely dispersed structure. The most central an dhighly connected nodes remain booksellers and uathors, but no single figure is dominant and most nodes enjoy many paths through the center." (70)

"brokerage" -- one node connects two otherwise distinct communities

"Brokerage is a useful way to describe paratextual criticism: whether connecting to patrons through dedications, to printers and booksellers with title pages and prefaces, or to actors through prologues and epilogues, paratexts draw authors into social space." (70)

"But it is the booksellers who are the most interesting brokers within the literary field, because they changed most dramatically over the later seventeenth century. The monopolization of literary publishing can be measured as a function of brokerage activity: a bookseller’s position within the social field of the print marketplace can be approximated as his or her share of the total brokerage activity of stationers [table 7]. Considered this way, Herringman’s monopoly on plays and court poetry is thrown into particularly sharp relief. Along with printer Thomas Newcomb with whom he worked, Herringman was responsible for virtually the entire network." (71)

"In this newly expanded context, the author’s paratextual address was experienced within a socially and topically diverse network of animadversion that reached in many directions and appeared in many forms. Critical exchange remained a coterie practice that simulated human relationships in print, but it did so across a much wider and more populous topology. " (71)

Aphra Behn