Information Networks in the French Enlightenment: A Digital History
Elizabeth Bond, Department of History, The Ohio State University
My work explores how people living in eighteenth-century France made sense of the intellectual and cultural debates of their day, the so-called Enlightenment. This question is especially salient, because the Enlightenment preceded the French Revolution, which transformed society, culture, and politics. In the two decades before the French Revolution, newspapers throughout France published thousands of letters from their readers. Taken together, the letters form a complex, rich and multitudinous conversation—voices that no one has listened to in a sustained fashion. Published letters to the editor tell us about an entirely new realm of eighteenth-century lives and social activity.
My talk will serve as an introduction to this rich data set and to the methods I have used to analyze this data, which include network analysis and topic modeling. I will discuss my ongoing work with a team of undergraduate students to digitize the newspaper content. Finally, I will identify next steps for further analysis and collaboration once the digitization is complete.
Note: Seminars are free and open to the public.