Using Digital Yoknapatawpha in the Classroom

Using Digital Yoknapatawpha to Analyze "A Rose for Emily" as a Gothic Literary Work

Ben Robbins

I used this video demonstration in an online undergraduate course on the American Gothic literary tradition, but it also works independently as an analysis of the story outside of this context. It illustrated to my students how they can use DY to perform a Gothic reading of Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily." While the video doesn't cover all of the many tools available on the site, it illustrates several ways in which researchers and students can use the resource to generate new insights about canonical Faulkner texts. It covers the following digital features and aspects of the Gothic:

  • Map: Timelines and narrative structure visualization (0:16-3:50)
    - the preoccupation with the past
  • Visualizations: Heatmaps (4:00-5:09)
    - the theme of spatial imprisonment
  • Visualizations: Bipartite Graphing (5:20-6:22):
    - the haunting of locations by characters
  • Event Searching: Keyword search (6:31-8:22)
    - the distribution of Gothic conventions

The 8-minute video is embedded below. Enjoy the demonstration!

Below is a more detailed outline of points covered and the approximate time in the video at which each one begins:

  • 00:36 - Review of key attributes of Gothic literature
  • 01:45 - Walpole's The Castle of Otranto and the uncertainty between what is real and what is not
  • 02:53 - Absalom, Absalom!'s inclusion of chronology, genealogy, and map of Yoknapatawpha County, which blur the lines between fiction and history
  • 03:56 - Introduction of "Faulkner and Maps" in DY's commentaries
  • 04:33 - Opening an individual text commentary from the main DY page
  • 05:04 - Overview of the Absalom, Absalom! Map and Commentary page; understanding the base map
  • 05:49 - Overview of Inset maps for region, nation, and world
  • 06:10 - Overview of DY's representation of the novel's sections (chapters) and player timelines to view events in page order or chronological order
  • 06:49 - EVENTS: Using "play" buttons to show the novel's events in place and time
  • 07:37 - Using the "step" button to depict events one by one
  • 08:30 - Timelines as markers of fluidity of time and emphasis on the past in the novel
  • 09:08 - Overview of CHARACTER data in DY
  • 09:29 - Different ways to display character icons
  • 10:14 - Character icons as visual indicators of race, gender, and individual or group status
  • 10:51 - Clicking icons to open individual character bios and other data
  • 12:13 - Overview of LOCATIONS data in DY: Sutpen's Plantation as "haunted" castle or mansion
  • 12:54 - Using "zoom" control to enlarge an area of the map; Sutpen's mansion as a gothic motif
  • 13:30 - Other "gothic" locations near Sutpen mansion
  • 14:02 - The Sutpen Cemetery as a Gothic motif
  • 14:32 - Two other DY tools for analyzing texts: Visualizations and Search
  • 14:59 - Visualization: Character-Character graph
  • 15:52 - Using a Character graph to show connections and possible "doubling" between characters
  • 16:31 - DY's Search tool for locations, characters, and events
  • 16:53 - Limiting an "events" search by text to list all events in the novel
  • 17:40 - Adding parameters to an events search to constrain results; using "keywords" feature to browse events
  • 18:26 - Entering text for free-form search in DY's event summaries or keywords

Citing this source:
Ben Robbins, "Using Digital Yoknapatawpha to Analyze 'A Rose for Emily' as a Gothic Literary Work." Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia, (Date added to project: 2020)