PDF of this assignment.

Lab 6: Network Analysis

Thanks to Alan Liu for the original version of this lab.

The goal of Lab 6 is to think through network analysis conceptually.

  1. Choose a short piece of literature (e.g., an act or a scene from a play, a chapter from a novel, a short story) that can be analyzed conceptually in terms of relations between characters. For example, relations can include who talks to whom, who is on the scene at the same time, who is related by family to whom, etc. Based on that work of literature, make a table of the social relations and also a hand-drawn (or otherwise created) social graph that looks something like this (an example from the Grandjean tutorial):

example of a social network graph

Here the left column of the table (Nodes) records an ID number for a character, the name of a character, and then a code for an attribute (e.g., 1 = male, 2 = female). You must assign one attribute to your nodes, but this attribute does not have to be gender (it can be something else that’s more important for your piece of literature). The right column (Edges) records relations between the characters (e.g., 1,2 are the ID numbers showing that John talked to Carla). The graph is a visualization of the table, where characters are “nodes,” and relations are “edges” (or links between nodes). If you have recorded attributes such as gender, you can use that to color the nodes differently. Don’t worry about the fact that the nodes are different sizes in the example graph. That represents a weighting factor, e.g., how many relations a character has. You don’t need to worry about this for your hand-drawn graph.

  1. Once you’ve created your graph and corresponding table, take a screenshot, scan, or photograph your work. Save this image like this: YourLastName.jpg (or png). Upload this image to our class Box folder (in the “Lab 6” folder).

  2. Create a post on our course site for Lab 6 (categorize it under “Lab 6”) and include a brief explanation/description of your graph and table. Then, write a report that reflects on what you’ve done in this lab and on network analysis more generally. Some questions you might consider as you write this report include:

  • Did making your social network graph tell you anything new about your chosen literary work that you might not have considered before? If so, what?
  • What are the advantages of social network analysis in literary studies? What are the disadvantages?
  • What are some challenges or difficulties associated with this method of literary analysis? How might students and scholars overcome these challenges?
  • More generally, what does network analysis do for researchers in literary studies? Why might we want to do it? What kinds of questions does it allow us to answer?

You do not need to answer all of these questions in your post; focus on those about which you have the most to say. You do not need to have a central argument (although it’s fine if you have one).

Shoot for 500-750 words.