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Rise of the Novel 2018
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The Google maps version of Crusoe’s journey maps on the locations from the book, whether traveled there by Crusoe or just mentioned in passing. This map highlights the number of locations mentioned—it is clear that place and space factor monumentally into the book. I appreciate the way the map shows that places are important and should be imagined in relation to one another, highlighting the importance of travel and movement as well. I found it interesting that, although the novel is part of a colonial project, most of the places are in Europe, which allows us to understand the perspective of the novel as distinctly that of the colonizer.

Assignment 2:

For the locations absent, we can see that most, if not all of them, are the given names of locations when one of the government powers controlled them during the time of Crusoe. For example, the long stretch of land in North Africa previously known as Barbary is now replaced by Mauritania, Niger, Algeria, Chad, etc. Also, you have places such as Dunkirk and St. Augustine, two locations that hold significance for the government powers Spain and England who were the leading powers for discovery and trade at that time. The absence of various locations on the current map provided by MyMaps demonstrates the shift from colonialism, under the powers of England and Spain, to the fight for independence in various areas of the world which would continue for centuries after Dafoe writes Robinson Crusoe. Even if some of the locations listed are fictional, they still have the characteristics of colonialism and imperialism which can be seen as Crusoe increasingly views his fictional island as an empire in which he is the ruler and those who choose to live there must recognize him as ruler. In addition, the various locations speak to the war between Spain and England for extending their respective empires through trade and conquest. This relationship between Spain and England helps give context to Crusoe’s biased remarks about Spain’s treatment of natives in their inhabited lands, despite England doing similar. These remarks, as well as the competition between Spain and England, allow the reader to see the growth Crusoe has gained on the island, away from the bias of those in England, seen as he makes sure that the English mutineers who are left on the island treat the Spanish sailors with respect when they return.

Assignment 2

2 min read

Comparing the two maps of Crusoe’s voyage—one with a map contemporary to the novel’s publication, one with more accurate and updated geography—revealed that the early map did not accurately show Crusoe’s voyage in the Caribbean, which is strange. He went among many islands, yet the dotted lines show he only went to the northern coast of South America. Could the mapper have confused the West Indies with the East Indies? But of more interest to me is the density of pinpoints in Europe. This is a detail we can’t see on the map of the voyage that My Maps allows us to analyze. Crusoe’s extensive lists of his stops in Europe tell us that Defoe was careful to list these cities accurately (they’re mistaken much, much less by MyMaps than are locations in the Caribbean and Africa). With Gallagher’s argument on the rise of fictionality in mind, we can postulate that this is part of an effort to convince readers of the truthfulness and accuracy of Crusoe/Defoe’s account, as he does in the preface. Readers are likely to know European geography well, but not other places abroad, so he makes sure not to invent European places.


Assignment 2
Providence doesn’t make the cut, google maps doesn’t recognize it as a real place, although last time I thought about it, there is a Providence, Rhode Island. I think this is interesting because there is some debate to be made about whether Providence is a real place or not. Whether is it purely a spiritual concept to Crusoe, or if over the course of his stay on the island (A real place which would show up on either map if it had had a name), becomes a real place as he transforms into a “society.” The lack of the island on google maps, if we are going with my theory that it could be considered Providence for Crusoe (he does talk about how he has been delivered to this island by God for his betterment), raises some interesting analysis about what constitutes “a place” as noteworthy as to make it onto a map in the times of colonial exploration. If the story of Robinson Crusoe was a true story would this island be on the primary source map provided to us, simply because of what he created on it?
An island called Providence.
I would argue, that in the eyes of colonialists it does. That what Crusoe did on the island makes it noteworthy for a map, and beforehand, it might not have been viewed as a place but as something more symbolic, an inner desire, deliverance.

Assignment 1
What I found most interesting from the data was the presence of words in places they perhaps didn’t belong and what light that shed on their role in the book.
Friday is included in the data as a DATE rather than a PERSON. This would flow with some things we were saying in class about Friday being more of a symbol, like “Good Friday” and object to Crusoe than a person. What Friday represents is a new day, for both himself and Crusoe. If we are harping on the rebirth idea, and Friday being considered a date rather than a person, then we could look at the days of creation of the Lord. On the fifth day god creates the sea animals and the BIRDS. And as we also pointed out in class, there are certain parallels between Friday and Crusoe’s pet Parrot, particularly in the ways in which these two characters learn to talk, both being taught meticulously by Crusoe, their master. Also by grouping Friday with the rest of the list of dates, the character becomes a moment in Crusoe’s life rather than a separate entity.
The data list, by placing Friday in the date section, serves to highlight certain symbolic attachments to Friday’s character.

Assignment 1: Names

2 min read

During my initial scan of the “persons” list, I found it interesting that Crusoe’s name appears 9 consecutive times in one part while it rarely appears in other parts of the novel. Because the data from the lists are organized by the order in which they appeared in the text, I figured there must be a corresponding place in the novel where either Crusoe references himself or he is spoken of many times. I then looked closer and found that these occurrences of Crusoe’s name come from the scene in which his parrot startles him, having found him far from home in his boat: “…I was awaked out of my sleep by a voice calling me by my name several times, “Robin, Robin, Robin Crusoe: poor Robin Crusoe!  Where are you, Robin Crusoe?  Where are you? Where have you been?,” (113). 

First of all, this makes me want to further investigate the meaningfulness of his self-reference in the novel, including when he calls himself “poor miserable Robinson Crusoe” in the beginning of the journal. For example, the parrot calls him “Robin” rather than “Robinson”; because Crusoe says he taught Poll these phrases himself, it’s as if he gave him permission to refer to him as a friend. The bird is “sociable,” and at that point in the novel, the only person who talks to him besides himself. In addition, because the parrot only says what Crusoe has said before, the questions the bird asks have a double meaning: they’re what Crusoe has asked of himself, an exile, and what his bird-friend asks him – he cares about him being gone, so asks where he’s been and comes to find him. Triste. 


Old Map, New Map (Assignment 2)

1 min read

The map from The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe is striking in the division it suggests between the Old World and the New World. It shows us two views of the same sphere, but the two-dimensional depiction leaves us with the impression that these halves of the world are all but separate, joined only at the equator. I wonder what we might glean from the map's presentation about eighteenth-century readers' conceptions of Crusoe's voyages--particularly relative to our own. Would they have considered Crusoe's trip from West Africa to Brazil especially meaningful? How would that square with Defoe's cursory treatment of the trip in the text (29)? What might a specifically twenty-first-century map (e.g., a Google map with locations marked) suggest about contemporary understandings of Robinson Crusoe's geography? Perhaps, I could argue, it betrays a certain expectation of geographical exactitude in adventure narratives. And perhaps it shows that the present-day reader's perception of locations has been flattened, with cities to be marked with the same blue tags as continents.

Upon creating the map from the deduplicated locations list, the most striking initial difference was one of form: the Google Maps version displays a series of points indicating locations superimposed over a map of the world (locations that Robinson Crusoe either visited or discussed), whereas the version printed in the novel displays the path taken by the protagonist. This means that the Google Maps lacks the attention to the seafaring journey that is essential to the novel. In paring down our imagining of the places referenced in the novel to a series of locations, the manner in which the original map places the act of traversing the globe at the center of the novel becomes increasingly clear. This highlights the nature of Robinson Crusoe as a travel narrative and a proto-colonial novel, one where places are only important insofar as they are connected to a wider vision of the globe as a connected entity, and furthermore, as an entity that may be traversed literally or non-literally by a middle-class individual. Additionally, the other primary difference between the two maps — that one is a mapping of places referenced and the other is a mapping of places the protagonist physically visited — reveals that although Crusoe's voyage to colonized or (through the gaze of empire) yet-to-be-colonized lands is central to how Robinson Crusoe imagines itself as a novel, the majority of references to location in the text are references to European locations. Non-European settings in this novel go largely unnamed despite being the subject of the narrative. This suggests that the methods with which Robinson Crusoe characterizes the non-European settings operate less explicitly/more covertly than they might otherwise.

"LOCATION: Christ" (Assignment 1)

2 min read

While examining my deduplicated persons list, I noted that a few of the personal names appearing in the novel are those of Biblical figures--namely: Jonah, Solomon, Elijah, and Saul. (While "Ismael" also appears, it refers not to the Biblical character but to a living person of that name.) At first, I didn't make much of this theme; the novel's narrator-protagonist becomes a pious Christian during its events, after all. But then it occurred to me that there was a Biblical name conspicuously missing from the list. Where was Jesus?

He was on the locations list, it turned out. The NER had recognized one instance of the name "Christ" as a place--and simply missed every other reference to the central figure of Crusoe's religion. It had, for example, completely overlooked the multiple instances of "Jesus" in Crusoe's first true prayer: "I cry'd out aloud, Jesus, thou son of David, Jesus, thou exalted prince and saviour, give me repentance!" (77). This moment represents a major development of Crusoe's character, yet examining the NER-provided data on the novel would give a researcher no hint of its presence, let alone its importance. How much can we really trust tools like the NER to provide accurate snapshots of a novel's contents?

Assignment 1

1 min read

While working through creating the separate lists and de-depulicating them, what interested me most was the initial list and the placement of data that we were organizing. As a list containing all dates, locations, names, times, and organizations, the first list produced by the NER depicted, in my opinion, the most interesting flow of data. Since the list contained most of the significant information of the novel, if one imagined the data as a graph, for example, just from the repetition of words, there would result some compelling results. At the beginning of the list, for example, one notices a predominant use of locations, particularly cities in England. In contrast, near the second half of the data, one sees a steady use of Friday (which NER incorrectly identifies as a data) as we assume begins when Robinson saves Friday from the cannibals and he becomes a central character to the novel. A counter to my analysis of the information would be if the data extracted by NER were graphed by their actual page placement in the novel, where their recurrence could be concentrated in a few pages in the novel and scattered in others.


Assignment 2

2 min read

Even a cursory glance at the map included in "The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe" is enough to guess both the time period and the perspective the book is written from. It's a map made by a colonizer, someone who sees Africa as an opportunity and its people as a bountiful resource ready to be plundered. The fact that one of the countries is called "Negroland" really drives home how little they cared for the cultural identity of these people, how they reduced them to commodities and nothing more. There's a chilling moment in "Robinson Crusoe" where the titular character, after being saved by the Portugese captain, is approached with a proposition by some planters and merchants. Having heard his story about encountering the people of Guinea, they want to sail there and enslave the inhabitants. They ask Crusoe to come along and manage the trading. Bear in mind that these are people who offered Crusoe and Xury aid, who showed nothing but kindness. But this doesn't deter Crusoe. He has no qualms with enslaving the people who helped him, his only concern being that it's a big risk to just take a voyage when he's already got a good thing going. This essentially sums up Crusoe's attitude throughout the novel: indifferent. Apathetic. It's not that he hates these people, he just doesn't care about them. He doesn't see them as human beings worth empathizing with or considering. It's attitudes like these that enabled atrocities like imperialism, and hangs over the novel and this map like an ugly cloud.

Assignment 1

1 min read

What struck me first and foremost about the list was the confusion regarding Friday, who is incorrectly listed as a date in the NER. This led me to reflect again on the dehumanization Robinson Crusoe so casually inflicts upon Friday, to the point that he names him after the day he met him, not bothering to put any thought into a meaningful name. To Crusoe, this probably seems an endearing, innocuous gesture, and perhaps the author thought so too. For us, modern readers, it speaks to the ignorance and hubris that animated the age of imperialism. It's also interesting how many times Friday's name is mentioned, far more than any other character. It highlights how important of a figure Friday is in Crusoe's life. Despite his subservient role, Friday is a crucial source of companionship that Crusoe heavily relies on. Perhaps it's worth considering what would have become of Crusoe had he not made a friend in Friday.

Mapping Robinson Crusoe

2 min read

When mapping our data from the Stanford NER to Google Maps, I was most interested to see the predominance and specificity of locations in Europe, especially with respect to the rest of the world. These results were apparent even in my initial analysis of the locations list in NER, but are even more evident when viewing the pinpoints on a physical map, which speaks to the manner in which Google maps data.

The map included from the Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe contains visible details of globalization, travel, and voyage in highly visual aspects, from the font and the inclusion of latitude/longitude lines, to the names of small bodies of water and the sketching of various terrains. This image, in my opinion, seems like the journey that Robinson Crusoe would want to preserve as representative of his narrative.

The map that is reflected on Google Maps, however, feels like a more realistic representation of Crusoe's journey. Throughout the text, he refers to foreign territory as essentially "uninhabited islands," which we are able to see, even on the title page of the book. He does not give names to these places, as it would be almost antithetical to the theme of the text: of a man on a solitary journey to the vast unknown. Many of the pinpoints are actually centered on the final leg of his journey, when he is traveling back home through Europe. I found these contrasts to be interesting, but moreover, important in understanding Crusoe's sentiments towards places that are both familiar and unfamiliar to him.

“Friday”, who we know as one of the main secondary characters in the novel, appears in the list of dates rather than names in the NER generated lists. Of course, this can be accounted for as an error on NER’s part, but it is telling of Friday’s role. Crusoe named him Friday rather deliberately, and it shows how marks his time on the island with events rather than actual time itself. From the text, we can read his description of Friday as being objectifying and dehumanizing. Friday being omitted from the list of people is indicative of how he is dehumanized by Crusoe but also can point to a fuller understanding of his actual name by putting it on the list of times. Interestingly, “Sunday” is the only other day of the week that is mentioned in the novel (or at least catalogued in the NER list), which is in line with Crusoe’s increasing commitment to religion throughout the novel. It is interesting that, according to the NER results, time is not as important a marker in the novel, or at least not as important as location for example, which has by far the most entries. Is there more significance behind Friday’s name because days of the week are so rarely mentioned? Perhaps it is a way for Crusoe to connect himself more with the way time is kept in mainstream society, off the island. Friday, through his character and his actual name, shows that Crusoe’s life on the island, though remote, is still indicative and reflective of society.

One interesting thing I noticed from looking at the data is the lack of named mentions in Robinson Crusoe. It makes sense, as the novel is written in first person from the perspective of a man who lives on an island for the most part devoid of human interaction. Not counting the references to "Friday", which Stanford NER erroneously categorized as dates, there are only 69 mentions of persons in the entire text. In Alice in Wonderland, Stanford NER recognizes 347 mentions of persons. However, once we remove the references to "Alice", most of which are due to the book's third person narration, both books have the exact same number of person labels. Including mentions of "Friday", Robinson Crusoe actually has more references to characters other than its protagonist than Alice in Wonderland. Although the book claims to be his solitary adventures, Crusoe is surrounded by company, especially Friday. In fact, Friday on his own is mentioned more than all of the non-protagonist character mentions in Alice combined. This highlights the role that Friday plays in the story. While he dehumanizes him in his descriptions, Crusoe fixates on Friday, dedicating 188 mentions to his name.

This map is somewhat hard to interpret, given the number of locations plotted. To remedy this I tried looking at the prevalence with which words appear in the text. Only seven words appear more than ten times: England(42), Providence(35), Lisbon(19), London(12), Brazil(11), Africa(11), and America(10). The extreme usage of England is no surprise, as Defoe is constantly trying to frame Crusoe's adventures in direct comparison to life in England, using phrases like "such as in England", "if we had been in England", and "as I had seen done in England". It is also interesting that the second most used place is Providence, which is used in the text in a far less literal sense than all other words. Crusoe uses the term in a Christian sense, reinforcing the novel's religious narrative. Looking at the map, there is a sharp contrast between the "new" and "old" worlds. Crusoe often refers to specific cities in Europe, covering the map in pins. On the other hand, non-european locations are painted with must wider strokes, with Crusoe referring to "Africa" and "America" as two of his most used places. I wonder whether this is an active choice by Defoe to only refer to locations that he thinks his reader will know or if he himself is only knowledgeable of these large distinctions.

Creating a list of references to dates within Robinson Crusoe immediately revealed an interesting error: all instances of "Friday" were interpreted as dates rather than as a person's name. After correcting this error and placing instances of "Friday" in the list of people rather than the list of dates, Friday is revealed as the most frequently named character, surpassing the protagonist. However, examining this in a denaturalized list format highlights the fact that "Friday" is not ordinarily a person's name. In the narrative, there is already considerable dehumanization when Crusoe names Friday (as well as establishing a new, self-aggrandizing title for himself), but considering that the total instances of "Friday" in the text surpass all other references to date and time put together, this leads me to wonder if the repetition of "Friday" subconsciously reinforces a paradigm where Friday is categorized as less than human, in opposition to Crusoe and the other characters. Another potentially significant point of interest revealed by these lists is that the list of locations was by far the longest. It could be argued that time was an equally vital factor to the core of the events that occur during the novel, consideration that the extreme length of time Crusoe spends stranded is essential, but location is explicitly referenced more often. It is possible that this reflects the nature of Robinson Crusoe as a proto-colonial text, where the geographical spread of empire is key. However, time is also essential to imperialist ideology, especially in terms of narratives of progress and development, so it is also possible that this is not a relevant observation.

The juxtaposition between the NER generated list of geographical mentions and the NER generated list of monetary mentions within Robinson Crusoe cement Defoe’s novel as a distinctly colonial yet pre-capitalist text. Robinson Crusoe is a novel concerned with wealth and social mobility as much, if not more, than it is a text about survival. The novel opens with Crusoe meditating on his socio-economic positioning. Before departing on his journey Crusoe is informed that, “It was for men of desperate fortunes on one hand, or of aspiring, superior fortunes on the other, who went abroad” (6). While this warning appears to set up a cautionary tale for those who fail to appreciate “the middle of the two extremes, between the mean and the great” (6) the novel ultimately concludes with Crusoe returning from his Odyssey to a sizable fortune. Quantitative data bears out this categorization of Robinson Crusoe as a novel concerned primarily with fortune. If we map the locations mentioned throughout the novel we see that––apart from biblical references to Israel and Egypt and a early descriptions of Crusoe’s background––almost all mentioned locations fall along either epicenters of the triangle trade or Portuguese outposts along the Swahili coast. However, despite the fact that the novel’s geographic locations are tied directly to the exchange wealth, the NER recognizes only one reference to actual money, early in the novel, wherein Crusoe recounts “I did not carry quite £100 of my new gained wealth” (16) on an early voyage. There is a moment towards the novel’s close where a donation of “872 Moidores”, a Portuguese gold coin, that goes unrecognized by the NER but it is emblematic of what the broader NER data shows us: that material wealth in the time of Robinson Crusoe was still in the process of being abstracted to currency.

The most fascinating result the NER’s word classifier produces for Robinson Crusoe looks, at first to be an innocent––if unfortunate––mistake. The NER fails to recognize Friday–a prisoner whom Crusoe rescues then subsequently enslaves––as a person, instead classifying each reference to Friday as a date. Friday’s parallel dehumanization at the hands of both Crusoe and the NER seems, at first glance coincidental. The computer’s confusion comes, understandably, as the consequence of Friday’s unconventional name. While Crusoe gives Friday his name, Friday’s naming is far from the most dehumanizing moment in a passage that sees him put Crusoe’s “foot upon his head as he had done before; and after this, made all the signs to me of subjection, servitude, and submission imaginable” (162-163). Yet the NER’s failure is far from inconsequential. Once we examine the list of dates we see that Friday is mentioned 190 times making him the most mentioned character in the novel, referenced 20 times more frequently than the Novel’s title character (While ostensibly some of these references could refer to the weekday the only other day of the week mentioned in the entire novel is Sunday and it appears just twice). In this way Friday shows us both the merits and dangers of computational humanities. Once the NER’s data is correctly collected, it shows us the centrality of a character of color to a distinctly colonial text. On the other hand, what do we make of the fact that the NER failed to recognize Robinson Crusoe’s most mentioned character as any character at all? What if Friday had been given a non-standard name outside NER’s seven classifications? The case of Friday also serves to caution us against the illusion that digitized methods of analysis are objective or free from the biases that plague their qualitative predecessor.

Crusoe and GoogleMyMaps

2 min read

I’d expected that some of the locations Crusoe references in the novel wouldn’t show up on the Google map I created for this activity, but I was still surprised at the sheer amount of entries which couldn’t be shown on the map—almost a quarter of the whole locations list was excluded, and while I can see how entries like “New,” “Bible,” and “providence” can’t be traced to physical locations, I can’t tell what kept Dunkirk and England from being added onto the map. The name and spelling variations which prevented certain locations from appearing on the map were also interesting (I especially liked the paired “Havannah” and “Havanna”), and entries like “New Spain” and “St. Salvador” provided a clear contrast between the increasingly colonial world and not-yet-standardized English of Robinson Crusoe and the present day. While this exercise couldn’t produce a comprehensive map of every location referenced in the novel, the map and list of “unmappable” items which exist are a weird and interesting window into the novel in their own right.