Faust Times Eighteen A Network Analysis of Theatre Plays Around the Myth of Faust

1. Abstract

Alongside the comparative network analysis of larger literary corpora (Algee-Hewitt 2017, Trilcke/Fischer 2018), there has recently been a trend towards focusing on author-centred subcorpora, such as the oeuvres of Jane Austen (Wade 2017) or Anton Chekhov (Faynberg et al. 2018).
Instead of picking out individual authors, we can instead focus on productive literary topoi instead and examine them with the means of network analysis, something that has not been undertaken yet as far as we can see. The abundance of dramas revolving around the Faust myth will serve as an example.
The German Drama Corpus (https://dracor.org/ger) currently holds 18 TEI-encoded plays that centre around a Faust character. They range from early plays like Weidmann's "Johann Faust" (1775) to the two parts of Goethe's "Faust" (1808, 1832) and Friedrich Theodor Vischer's "Faust, part III" (1862), but also feature mash-ups like Grabbe's "Don Juan und Faust" (1829) and a version with a female Faust character, Wilhelm Schäfer's "Faustine" (1898).
Network analysis enables us to take a comparative macroscopic look at the different structures of these plays. For example, the roles of the devil/sub-devil Mephistopheles and the famulus Wagner can be examined more closely, shedding new light on the structural development of the sujet. It will become clear when and where these characters appear – but also where they are missing. Other types of characters also come to the fore, such as Gretchen or even Faust's parents, who play no role in Goethe's version but who do appear in other plays.
Our poster first offers network visualisations that concentrate on the centres, i.e., the constellation directly around the Faust character, especially in the larger plays (Soden's "Doctor Faust" has 62 characters, Julius von Voss's "Faust" has 72 characters, Avenarius' "Faust" has 95 characters, Goethe's first part of "Faust" has 115 and the second part even 189 distinguishable characters/voices). The visualisations are supported by statistical network measures, such as the Betweenness Centrality, Degree and Weighted Degree. In addition to visual evidence, these measures can also address the positioning of the characters surrounding Faust in a new way.
The poster will demonstrate how network analytical and quantitative aspects complement existing literary research on the topic (for an overview of the wealth of literary works around Faust cf. Hucke 1992).
Algee-Hewitt, Mark (2017): Distributed Character: Quantitative Models of the English Stage, 1550–1900. In: New Literary History 48(4), pp. 751–782. Johns Hopkins University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/nlh.2017.0038
Faynberg, Veronika et al. (2018): Netzwerkanalytischer Blick auf die Dramen Anton Tschechows. In: DHd2018 Conference Abstracts, University of Cologne, pp. 439. DOI: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.6410909
Hucke, Karl-Heinz (1992): Figuren der Unruhe. Faustdichtungen. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Reprint: de Gruyter 2014.
Trilcke, Peer; Fischer, Frank (2018): Literaturwissenschaft als Hackathon. Zur Praxeologie der Digital Literary Studies und ihren epistemischen Dingen. In: Martin Huber, Sybille Krämer (eds.): Wie Digitalität die Geisteswissenschaften verändert: Neue Forschungsgegenstände und Methoden (= 3rd Special Edition of 'Zeitschrift für digitale Geisteswissenschaften'). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17175/sb003_003
Wade, Karen (2017): Jane Austen's Social Networks. In: The Sea of Books. URL: https://theseaofbooks.com/2017/07/04/jane-austens-social-networks/
Frank Fischer (frank.fischer@dariah.eu), Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Anna Busch , University of Potsdam, Linda-Rabea Heyden , Wikimedia Deutschland e.V., University of Jena and Mark Schwindt , Ruhr University Bochum

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