While putting together my logic for why social networks make good models for ekphrasis, I find that it’s important to always keep the instabilities of that decision close at hand. Â Working with networks in the humanities seems promising, but there’s also good reason for skepticism… a point that I think Elijah MeeksÂ articulates quite well in his recent post “Hacking Networks in the Humanities.” Â I just wish I could go to the THATCamp where he introduces Gephi.
The introduction to my project begins to lay out a new way to model ekphrasis. Â Perhaps one of the most significant contributions to the study of textual representations of visual art is W.J.T. Mitchell’s essay “Ekphrasis and the other” which fashions a model to describe how ekphrasis works. Â Mitchell explains that the canon of ekphrasis can be defined by three irreducible participants: the poem, the visual object, and the reader. Â These three participants form what has come to be called the “ekphrastic triangle.” Â As he continues, Mitchell situates this triangular relationship within a social and historical context.
My work reconsiders the triangle in light of what we know about “network theory.” Â Rather than limiting the number of relationships, I describe a flexible, manipulable model that can expand or contract based on the language of the poem. Â In the process, I am on the lookout for articles about model-making in literary studies. Â Today’s is Willard McCarty’s “Knowing…: Modeling in Literary Studies” found in A Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth.