Using Digital Yoknapatawpha in the Classroom

Using Digital Yoknapatawpha to Analyze Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! as a Gothic Text

John B. Padgett

Absalom, Absalom! is an outstanding example of Gothic fiction, drawing from numerous tropes and motifs in the literary tradition that began in 1764 with Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. This video demonstrates some of the ways DY can be used to research and analyze the novel as a Gothic literary text, many of which can be adopted to other critical viewpoints as well. I provide a brief overview of some important characteristics of Gothic literature and then show how DY can highlight or illuminate some of these traits, including (1) ambivalence or uncertainty between what is "real" and what is not, (2) Gothic literature's emphasis on the past, (3) the frequent use of "doubling" or alter-egos in Gothic texts, and (4) the importance of a gloomy or foreboding setting in Gothic texts, especially the "haunted" castle or mansion.

After a brief overview of Gothic literature and Walpole's novel, most of the video focuses on the Map and Commentary page on Absalom, Absalom! in DY. The last few minutes of the video, however, focus on Visualizations (specifically, the Character-Character graphing feature) and on DY's "Search" function. The menu below provides the time markers for the larger units of the video; further down, below the video, I provide a more detailed itemization of the subjects and functions that the video covers.

DY features demonstrated in this video:

  • Commentaries, "Faulkner and Maps" (3:56-4:33)
  • Map and Commentary on Absalom, Absalom! (5:04-14:32)
  • Events data via players and timelines (6:10-9:08)
  • Characters data (9:08-12:13)
  • Locations data (12:13-14:32)
  • Visualizations, Character-Character graphing (14:59-16:31)
  • Search, Events (16:31-18:58)

Citing this source:
John B. Padgett, "Using Digital Yoknapatawpha to Analyze Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! as a Gothic Text." Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia, (Date added to project: 2020)