Stanford Is Mapping Emotions in Victorian London

Stanford’s “Mapping Emotions in Victorian London” is a crowdsourcing project designed to expand possibilities for research in the humanities. The project has invited anonymous participants to annotate whether passages drawn from novels, published mainly in the Victorian era, represented London places in a fearful, happy, or unemotional manner. This data allows Stanford to generate the maps you find here, revealing a previously unseen emotional geography of Victorian London. Click on History Pin for details.

This project was led by a research team from the Stanford Literary Lab, within the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Within the emerging sub-discipline of literary geography, the project seeks to analyze the ways in which physical space and fictional constructions of location have worked to organize and represent the changing experiences of London throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a period marked by both rapid urbanization and the rise of the novel. Specifically, the project attempts to map the emotions associated with particular urban locales in London’s fiction.

Crowdsourcing approaches make  investigation of these research questions possible. This project is built upon the input of an anonymous crowd, in this case Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Anonymous participants have annotated fictional passages mentioning specific London locales—allowing a far greater number of passages to be annotated than would be by an individual researcher. What has been generated is an unprecedented data set and visualizations of the emotional geography of London drawn from eighteenth and nineteenth century novels.

Map Credit: Historical map overlay from Ordnance Survey Maps, London, Five feet to the Mile, 1893-1896, courtesy of the National Library of Scotland. Special thanks to Chris Fleet and David Rumsey. For more information, please see: http://maps.nls.uk/os/london-1890s/index.html

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