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Review Networks in the Marsden Journals

Whenever a book review is foregrounded in one of the MJP's journals, we catalogue that item as an "article" but then distinguish it from other articles by including, in the title tag for the item, the name of the book reviewed, the book's author(s), and also the words "book review." This enables users to conduct title searches for these reviews on the MJP website, and it also allows us to identify and extract all such marked items in our catalogue records. What follows on this page are visualizations we've built from these data—revealing the different book review networks that exist within The Freewoman (1911-1912), The New Freewoman (1913), and The Egoist (1914-1919). [Click here for charts about the book reviews in these journals and The Little Review.]

Some guidelines for reading these graphs:

  • The data visualized below compile the number of book reviews that a reviewer has contributed to a journal, as well as the number of books that an author has had reviewed there. Thus, in our data for The Egoist, Richard Aldington is recorded as having reviewed 23 books in the journal and Amy Lowell as having her books reviewed three times in its pages. The data also record who reviewed whom. Any other information about the books reviewed, or the substance of the review itself, has been eliminated from our data.
  • While book review numbers do not themselves appear in these graphs, count size is visualized by the relative size of a node and its label (when compared to the size of other nodes and labels in a graph), as well as by the relative width and length of an edge linking two nodes (in general, the wider and shorter the edge, the greater the count). Size here merely expresses the number of books reviewed--it says nothing about the length of a review or its prominence in the magazine, Thus, an entire article devoted to the review of a single book carries the same weight in these graphs as a one-sentence review of another book.
  • Reviewers are represented by "last name, first name" while the authors they reviewed are represented by "first name last name"; thus, "Eliot, T. S." refers to Eliot the reviewer, while "T. S. Eliot" refers to Eliot the author (or poet) whose work has been reviewed by another author. (Reviews signed by initials and anonymous reviews do not follow this rule.) In those graphs that relate reviewers to the authors they reviewed, reviewers are additionally indicated with green nodes and authors reviewed with red nodes.

Set 1: Reviewers and authors reviewed in The Freewoman, New Freewoman, and Egoist, respectively

These three graphs represent the review network in each magazine by linking the reviewers to the authors they reviewed in its pages.

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Set 2: Reviewers and authors reviewed in all combinations of the three Marsden journals

These four graphs continue to represent the links bewteen reviewers and authors reviewed, but the sample sizes are bigger than in set 1 above; in the first three graphs, we've combined the data from two of the three magazines, while the fourth graph pulls together the data from all three. Because these four graphs together visualize every combination of data from the three graphs in set 1, they should reveal (when compared to the visualizations in that set) the broader review networks within the Marsden journals for these reviewers and review subjects.

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Set 3: Reviewers who were also reviewed in the three Marsden journals

These two graphs visualize the small set of authors--there are only eight of them--who reviewed books for these journals and also had their own books reviewed in them. The first graph visualizes which of the three journals these eight authors appeared in (as reviewer or author reviewed). The second graph relates these eight authors to the wider network of authors who reviewed them or whom they reviewed in the three magazines (we've highlighted in yellow the names of the eight authors reviewed, so they are more apparent in the graph).

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Set 4: Reviewers, authors reviewed, and both groups in all three Marsden journals

These three graphs represent the magazines' review networks by linking reviewers, then authors reviewed, and finally both reviewers and authors reviewed to the magazines in which their reviews appeared. Though these graphs no longer represent the relationship beweeen reviewer and reviewed, they do clearly indicate which reviewers, and which authors reviewed, appeared in one or more of the Marsden journals, as well as the relative size of their appearance in each, as measured by number of book reviews.

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Set 5: The review networks in the Marsden journals vs. The Little Review

The first graph below, like the graphs in set 1 above for the Marsden journals, shows the links between reviewers and authors reviewed in The Little Review (from 1914 to 1920). The next three graphs duplicate the data from set 4 above, while adding the data from The Little Review about which reviewers, authors reviewed, and both groups together appeared in the magazine. By visualizing the review network of a fourth magazine (whose timeline here coincides with that of the Egoist) and then relating it to the networks of the three Marsden journals, these four graphs should offer some basis for measuring the strength of the review network connections among the Freewoman, New Freewoman and Egoist.

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How We Made These Graphs

1. More on what these graphs represent—and leave out

Despite all their apparent complexity, the Gephi graphs above only represent relationships between two kinds of things: some of the graphs chart the relationships between reviewers and authors reviewed in a single magazine, while others chart the relationships between reviewers (and/or authors reviewed) and the multiple magazines in which their reviews appeared. When we extracted the data for these visualizations, we had to eliminate a lot of information that undoubtedly has importance. For instance:

  • These graphs do not express when a review appeared in a magazine—other than the general lifespan of the magazine itself—since the exact date of its publication (along with its volume/issue number) was a variable we had to eliminate for the graphs to function.
  • As noted above, the graphs also do not indicate the size of a review (how long or short it was) or how prominently it was displayed in the magazine (did it appear in the front or back pages? was the review treated like an article and given its own title? was it clumped together with a series of other books reviewed by the reviewer?).
  • Though the graphs relate reviewers and authors reviewed, they leave out the books' titles, and thus say nothing about the discisiplinary nature of the books reviewed (poetry? history? biography?) and their specific subject matter (poetry of Emily Dickinson? history of France? biography of Walt Whitman?).
  • The graphs also do not indicate the attitude of the reviewer toward the book reviewed or anything said in the review about the book.

Moreover, the above graphs only include those book reviews that MJP cataloguers identified when constructing the catalogue records for these magazines. This means that if a book review is not foregounded as such in the magazine, it will not show up in these graphs. And if the author of a book review has not been mentioned in the magazine, that review also will not (with few exceptions) show up in these graphs, which hinge on the authors' names.

By the same token, whenever a book reviewer discussed multiple books, we built a link between the reviewer and the author of each book. And whenever a reviewed book had more than one author (which was not often), we built separate links between the reviewer and each of those authors; this will have the effect of over-representing those books in the graphs, but it is justified by our need to represent all the authors reviewed in a review network. Finally, whenever the reviewer was not identified in the magazine, we labelled the reviewer "Anon"; accordingly, that label in these graphs may represent one or many anonymous authors.

2. How we built edges and nodes tables from the MJP catalogue records