Tag Archives: Dubliners

Doing Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities has been a curious adventure for me so far. I dove into this opportunity because of the recommendation of a professor at SJSU and the chance to expand on my experiences in literary studies. Having navigated the activities and studied the readings, I was steadily progressing in getting a grasp of DH and finding innovative prospects in Humanities. As each module built a new step towards the final project, I felt more and more confident mingling in this field and was excited to discover what directions I can take in regards to Literature by using digital tools.

Although my initial project to map East of Eden by John Steinbeck did not materialize, I did set off to use those ideas and instead applied them to Mapping Dubliners by James Joyce. All of John Steinbeck’s writings are under strict copyright and may not be available digitally for free use until the 75 years will pass after the death of the author.

With Mapping Dubliners, I did not have a tangible goal as far as an expected outcome; rather I was curious to see how DH can interpret, re-visualize, or present a new perspective about a classic literary piece that has been analyzed by many scholars. At first, I planned to see which digital tool offered a feasible opportunity to explore the text. Voyant seemed like a good start to look at word frequency. In the same time, I also realized that in order to complete a comprehensive mapping of the entire book, I needed to re-read Dubliners. As a result, I looked for the story with the most locations to begin — “Two Gallants” was the one.

The inspiration to execute the project came from Modules 7-9 when we looked at digital tools such as Voyant, CartoDB, and Palladio. I was particularly fascinated with two projects: Linked Jazz and Putting Harlem on the Map. The results these projects have put forth with the use of DH tools allowed for a fresh perspective in both cases. Ambitiously, I was hoping to do the same with my project. My queries regarding mapping Dubliners were: What more can we learn about the characters or the author’s intentions by looking at specific locations on the map of Dublin? How have these locations changed? How many still carry the same name? (As I found out some street names have changed.) What sorts of activities happen in those areas of Dublin today? How do they differ from the activities during Joyce’s time? Then of course, I realized that using these tools, I would simply just begin to scratch the surface. In order to answer these questions, perhaps crowdsourcing is a way to go by inquiring residents of Dublin about the places or gathering anecdotes or photographs to link to the locations. As a different approach, a twenty-first century Dublin could be constructed and linked to Joyce’s Dublin as it appeared in 1914.

In my project, I was curious to see how I might be able to manipulate Palladio and find a network of connections between characters and locations. I was able to work with the data to see the network of characters and locations in the story I have mapped. This made me think about how once all the stories are mapped,  the links of places and character, could offer a look at which part of the city the female characters are more likely to be versus the male characters. Overall, I believe that the data from one story alone is just not quite enough to show a bigger, more complex perspective.

While Palladio took me to visualizing simple links between characters and locations, I wanted to explore CartoDB’s mapping. Again, CartoDB gives a great visual of the places these two gallants were walking  through in the story, but I was not exactly sure what elements of the book these maps might enhance. Perhaps they do not have to add to the reading experience, only accompany it.

Then again, following the wonderful example of the Linked Jazz project, it would also be a promising prospect to create a linked map of the names of characters, pictures of locations, and quotes from the book. CartoDB has the ability to show character names, streets, and the limited text I added in from the story regarding what was happening at that location. In addition, this project might incorporate Irish music or any relevant audiovisual element to enhance the experience of reading Joyce’s book that is so deeply steeped in the geography and culture of Dublin.

As of now, the seeds of Mapping Dubliners is posted in my portfolio, however, in order to make it more comprehensive and interactive, it will have to be moved over to its own site. I hope to continue adding to this project by mapping the rest of the book and exploring other digital tools to see it evolve.

Working with DH tools, watching the media additions and reading the course literature, I have found that one of the remarkable aspects of Digital Humanities is that the ideas of a project grow in ways unexpected at the start. Via digital tools, visualization, links, presentations, and crowdsourcing these DH projects yield a certain historical and cultural expansion.

Mapping Dubliners – Two Gallants

For my Digital Humanities final project, I wanted to work with a text of a literary classic to see how DH can interpret, re-visualize, or present a new perspective about a book that has been analyzed by many scholars. Dubliners  by James Joyce was an easy choice since it takes the reader to a multitude of locations within the stories told. In Joyce’s words: “My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis. ” (Letters, vol. 2,134)

Dubliners is a collection of 15 stories that depict a variety of characters as Joyce paints their portraits of life in the Irish capital. He focuses on both children and adults of the middle class: housemaids, shop girls, clerks, teachers, students, swindlers, and businessmen. Through these moments of experiences, Joyce holds up  a mirror for the Irish to observe and study themselves. Joyce’s stories not only allow us to peek into the homes, but also reveal the hearts and minds of these Irish whose lives as they intermingle through the space of Dublin reflect its spirit. The subtle social and cultural connections create a sense of shared experience and evoke a map of Dublin and its life. The story of “Two Gallants” from Dubliners provides the most locations in the entire book, so I started there.


I began by reading  the digital copy of Dubliners available in Project Gutenberg and marked the locations mentioned in the story of “Two Gallants” using Diigo, which allowed me to save a list of locations.







I have uploaded the story into Voyant to see the text around the street names. Also I was interested in the various association of characters to places and spoken or narrated words.

Viewing the Cirrus function, it became evident that Corley and Lenehan, the two characters wondering around the streets of Dublin are of the utmost importance of the story. These two names have topped the list of words most frequently appearing.


Next, I have explored Voyant’s “Links” tool to examine the connections of the two main characters and their actions or the most common words linked to their names as a way to conjure meaning.

I was interested in further looking at Corley, since his name came up the most – 46 times. The “Bubblelines” function provided me with a linear graph of the name’s frequency, which is more applicable when we think of how stories are told in a similar fashion. The “Trends Graph” gave another view of Corley’s appearance in the story.

Using an Excel spread sheet, I have assembled the dataset including names of characters, locations (the story names streets, squares, lawns, colleges), longitude and latitude of those locations, and added the action or dialogue taking place.  The coordinates finder site allowed me to search up those numbers, which after I organized and listed in Excel was able to upload into CartoDB and Palladio.

CartoDb’s wizard function in the Map View allows the dataset to visualize over the map of Dublin showing the locations mentioned in “Two Gallants.”

The Cluster function of CartoDB shows the actual locations on the map of Dublin. By hovering over the points, the name of the character and the action that had taken place at that location in the story will appear.

CartoDB Heat map gives a progressive look at the movement of the characters in the story. It is projected over a night map of Dublin,
which makes it visually more relevant since the story takes place at night.

Analysis: this project shows the very beginning of how DH might explore literary texts with a variety of purposes. My project ends here with questions and possibilities for further steps:

  • How to continue?
  • What can be gained?
  • Who might be interested?
  • What more can we learn about the characters?
  • How have these locations changed?
  • Should the project expand to link photographs of the locations?
  • Should the information include what sorts of activities happen in those areas of Dublin today? Do they differ from the activities during Joyce’s time?
  • Would crowdsourcing be a useful contribution to the project?
  • As a different approach or addition to the project, a twenty-first century Dublin could be constructed and linked to Joyce’s Dublin as it appeared in 1914.

Other Projects on Mapping Dubliners