VI.7 Literary Empires: Mapping Temporal and Spatial Settings of Victorian Poetry

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Bradford Demarest

Jonathan Tweedy

Theodora Michaelidou

Laura Pence

Devin Becker

John A. Walsh

The Literary Empires map was created by information scientist John A. Walsh, graduate students Devin Becker, Bradford Demarest, Jonathan Tweedy, Theodora Michaelidou, and graphic designer Laura Pence. It is based on a small sampling of poems by Victorian poets Robert Browning and Algernon Charles Swinburne. As shown in the map, literary works often have an identifiable setting in both time and space. Many Victorians, for instance, were fascinated by classical Greece and medieval Europe, and Victorian writers provide a rich variety of representations of the classical and medieval worlds. Of the total works from any given period, or among a defined set of authors or texts, how many have classical, medieval, biblical, or contemporary settings? The data can answer these questions and trigger other insights into literary history. This map shows the distribution of literary settings across time and space, together with networks of works sharing common settings. Interesting observations may be made. For instance, one finds clusters of poems and gaps in the timeline and concentrations of poems in Italy, Greece, and the Holy Land. A dynamic map and timeline are at


Quin, Edward. 1830. A.D. 337. At The Death of Constantine. London, England. Courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection, Cartography Associates, San Francisco.

The Swinburne Project. 2011. September 7, 2011.

Walsh, John A., David Becker, Bradford Demarest, Theodora Michaelidou, Laura Pence, and Jonathan Tweedy. Literary Empires: Mapping Temporal and Spatial Settings of Victorian Poetry. Courtesy of Indiana University, with content provided by the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. In “6th Iteration (2009): Science Maps for Scholars,” Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Elisha F. Hardy.

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.