Visualizing a Translational Queer Poetics

1. Abstract

Archivepelago is a project visualizing the transmission and translation of notions of sexuality and gender by mapping networks of queer writers and artists (and early sexologists), bringing into relief the communities that developed through these networks in the 19th and 20th centuries. The project draws upon hundreds of finding aids and additional biographic data, charting connections between these figures ranging from their correspondence to the works dedicated to and translated by one another. The project is intended to act as a public humanities resource for understanding the forces underpinning queer diaspora while encouraging scholars to rethink our conceptions of artistic influence beyond the misogynistic, heteronormative notions presented 35 years ago in Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Infuence.

In addition to drawing upon scholarly work on archipelagos (Manolo Guzman, Michelle Stephens, Island Studies Journal), this project draws upon Digital Humanities projects visualizing and recuperating historical networks such as Republic of Letters and Mapping Marronage as well as conversations about recovering and amplifying history via Digital Humanities projects.

Ultimately, Archivepelago’s main features will be 1) interactive network maps demonstrating relationships in terms of correspondence, translations of one another’s works, and shared demographic or psychographic characteristics such as religious affiliations; 2) interactive geographic maps depicting the migration of individual writers and artists, demonstrating emerging communities in metropolitan centers such as Paris, NYC, Algiers, and Mexico City; and 3) an online exhibit outlining key concepts drawing on well-known moments and figures (e.g., Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein) and lesser-known figures like Charles Warren Stoddard.

In our current phase of the project, we are isolating translations of queer writers translating one another’s work cataloged in finding aids and adding this information to our Neo4j graph database. We will share our findings by visualizing what Arjun Appadarai describes as “cultural flows” across languages (e.g., Langston Hughes’ translations of Gabriela Mistral and Federico Garcia Lorca) and periods (e.g., John Addington Symonds’ translations of Sappho and other Classical as well as Renaissance poetry) while putting our data in conversation with contemporary work on queer translations. Over the course of this presentation, we will illustrate the types of queries made possible by our graph database while discussing the significant figures and trends within these networks.

Corey Clawson (, Rutgers University - Newark, United States of America

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