"Webs of Violence in Beowulf"

1. Abstract

Editions of the Old English poem Beowulf open with family trees, networks of birth and alliance. This project uses the network graph tool Cytoscape to visualize and analyze the network of who kills whom in the poem. The project examines the ethical and rhetorical decision-making that underlies a translation of Beowulf's poetics of violence into the visual language and mathematical aspects of network graphs. The shape of the resulting network graph, with its connected sub-regions, mirrors the narrative structure of the poem. Not only is violence pervasive; it structures every single narrative, whether foreground or episode. Violence is the procedural logic of Beowulf. By representing the poem as a network graph, the project stages a “new media encounter zone,” in Alan Liu’s formulation, between Beowulf's inset oral storytelling, Beowulf's print editions' paratext, and the affordances of the bioinformatics visualization platform Cytoscape.

Alexandra Bolintineanu (, University of Toronto, Canada

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