Literature, as an important information carrier for human civilization, owns a tremendous meaning on various eras, various geographic environments and various cultural backgrounds. It originated from the human mind, expressing people’s inner emotions via different kinds of literature such as poem, novel, essay and script. To a great extends, literature can represent the social life and activities of a certain era in a certain place on the earth. Although each literature works owns a particular content and expression, by digitalizing process on computers, we can still do much research on those literature works and gain some new conclusion which we can hardly reach by studying a single work. In this article, several digitalization and analysis methods were mentioned and their comparison were discussed as well.
Geography in Literature
In the research of Wilkens from Notre Dame University,( Literary geography at Corpus Scale) they did much research on the relationships between literature and geography on various scales from local to the whole world. They concluded a positive correlativity between population and the distribution of place references by studying those works published from 1851 to 1875. That means one place with a bigger population may also be related to a higher references rate on the works at that time. Normally, those places just means cities, this results shows the essential status of urbanization during this time of America and also somewhere else around the earth. Meanwhile, the disproportion brought by this effect made the correlativity not so strong. But what is positive we saw in this research is that the geographic information in literature, though they are not the core of literature works, still convey a large information of a certain civilization of society on a certain period and place.
History in Digital Humanity
In the abstract “Introducing GeoBib: An Annotated and Georeferenced Online Bibliography of Early German and Polish Holocaust and Camp Literature(1933-1949)”, Entrup et al. build an online bibliography of the literature aiming at describing the holocaust and camp at that time in World War II. In this research , Theirs job is to gather the annotations, description, keywords, author’s information, reviews and last but the most important, time periods mentioned in the content. They correlated these aspects of information with the literature works together. The combination of the content and the time stamps provides those historians a wide and comprehensive basic database. In this research, this method was used to deal with the history of the WWII, however, this certain kind of digitalization process will be also smoothly applied into other critical historical periods like Civil War, Industrial Revolution and Renaissance.
Social Networks in Literature
Besides the research focused on the literature works themselves, Brown et al. raised a quite interesting research method on their recent research. (Preliminaries: The Social Networks of Literary Production in the Spanish Empire During the Administration of the Duke of Lerman(1598-1618)) Those preliminaries of books contain very comprehensive and detailed information in the background of the publishing, governmental affiliation, literary circles, authors’ and their friends’ information and many other aspects. By studying those books published during the 17th-century in the Spanish Empire, they gained a well-described social network of publishing at that time. Then they established a system considering every single information points, normally these points are authors and books. By dealing with the whole system, they can easily identify the influence provided from a certain single point belongs to the system. Then they can get a detailed description of this single point and realize its significance in the whole social network.
All these topics applied totally different research method on their own research focus, though they share the same research object, literature and the same processing procedure, digitalization. They also reach an agreement by extracting information on a specific category (Geography, History, Social Network) and accomplishing an objective description on a specific aspect of a certain civilization environment during a certain period of time. The first topic effectively utilized the distribution of place references to analyze the state of human geography of the US during the Civil War. But this concentrated method is not easy to generalize and be applied on other research focus. In contrast, the method used in the second topic shows a strong ability to generalize. It can be easily used on any kind of historical research on various historical topics. Moreover, as a foundation method of digitalization, by classifying data of a certain academic topic, it can offer systematic data frameworks. For the third topic, it can be regarded as an extended research on the foundation of the method in the second topic. Significantly, the preliminaries is a kind of data classification of the core information of a book. To analyze the social network, those researchers integrated information and built a suitable data frameworks as the preparation of the research. Then they gain new conclusion on the level of the whole system by numerical simulation using computers. Generally, the conclusions can barely be achieved only analyzing a single element of the system.
The literature as a mirror of the human civilization, is an accessible research object of digital humanity. However, the research of digital humanity should be restricted in literature, some other forms of art like music and painting can be a more abundant information source once they are digitalized.