Network Theory

Spacial analyses of literature seem to be based on logic and mathematical analysis than temporal analyses. A large part of spacial analysis seemed to be making graphs of the contents of literature; for example, in order to find the protagonist in spacial analysis, they made a graph of relationships between characters and said the protagonist was the centermost character. Temporal analysis is based more on analyzing the actual text, such as the word frequency graphs on voyant.

Moretti backs up this view when he says “I am discussing Hamlet, and saying nothing about Shakespeare’s words – but also, in another sense, much more than it, because a model allows you to see the underlying structures of a complex object.” In this quote’s example, temporal analysis would be analyzing Shakespeare’s actual words, while spatial analysis is making a model to see the underlying structures of Hamlet. They both have their advantages and are useful in analyzing different parts of the piece of literature.


3 thoughts on “Network Theory

  1. I would have to agree with you. The spatial analysis is very useful when trying to analyze the characters, relationships and structure of a piece. Even though it does not state the purpose or story behind a piece, spatial analysis can most definitely be used as a helpful aid when trying to read and/or analyze a work on a deeper level.

    However, there are flaws in this tool of analysis. One of which being discussed in 1. Character-network: connections not being weighted. “…when Claudius tells Horatio in the graveyard scene, “I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him”, these eight words have in this Figure exactly the same value as the four thousand words exchanged between Hamlet and Horatio.” (p. 3). Obviously, this provides a problem when trying to assess the significance of the connections found in a spatial analysis graph.

  2. I agree spatial analysis is the graphical representation of a written work. As you mentioned, it is useful in order to determine the relationships between characters, which is useful in determining the protagonist of a work. There is, however, something lost in regards to using spatial analysis. Combining what you both have previously said, when working with a model of a text, you find underlying connections between the characters, but each interaction between two characters has the same weight. “Third consequence of this approach: once you make a network of a play, you stop working on the play proper, and work on a model instead: you reduce the text to characters and interactions, abstract them from everything else, and this process of reduction and abstraction makes the model obviously much less than the original project…” (p. 4). The interactions between characters are weighted the same in this case. In order to completely analyze a work, you would need both spatial and temporal analyses to completely analyze it.

  3. Meta – The main post does a good job highlighting the differences between spacial and temporal analysis, and then uses a good quote from the reading to give a concrete example of the difference in the context of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It also makes an important point that it is important to use multiple types of analysis when analyzing literature in order to get a more complete picture.

    The follow-up comment does a good job of contributing to the initial post by pointing out a flaw in spacial analysis, mainly that it can be hard to “weight” the value of conversations and connections. The importance of a scene or line of dialogue in relation to the greater work can be very hard to know without a deep knowledge of the literature in question, which is difficult and time-consuming to model, as well as being subjective.

    It is clear that spacial analysis can be very useful, but it is important to remember that there are more variables in play that need to be taken into account when analyzing a work of literature.

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