The Keats Connections Project is a digital humanities project with the purpose of articulating contextual and historical connections between the poetry of John Keats and his life and letters. The aim of Keats Connections is to be a resource encompassing all 241 letters and all 54 poems of John Keats, making connections between them and connections within them to contextual information. We created this project in order to allow researchers, archivists, students, and Keats enthusiasts alike to have access to a user-friendly and collaborative resource towards viewing the connections between contexts and the life and writings of the poet John Keats.
This project will address the lack of digital representation of the connections and contexts seen in the poetry and letters of John Keats. As scholars of Keats well know, Keats’s letters reveal his writing process and show the formation of his ideas by revealing the reasoning and thoughts behind his poetry. However, there is not currently a resource allowing for a direct connection between his poetry, his letters, and his life. There is the well-documented “Keats Letters Project” that produces each of his letters on the 200th anniversary of their authorship (which will be complete in late 2020), and there is the digital chronology entitled “Mapping Keats’ Progress” that traces Keats’ life, but there is no project that connects his life and letters with his poetry, the most celebrated area of his life.
This project utilizes the Omeka publishing service to present our information with the use of items, collections, and pages on an exhibit to allow users the ability to view poems, letters, and contexts in the way that best suits their needs. The organization of the site includes a page outlining all poems in alphabetical order, a page displaying all correspondences in alphabetical order by last name, a page with all poems and letters organized by date, and a page with embedded text analyses organized alphabetically. Viewers and researchers can view the poems and letters as both items and as pages in an exhibit to allow for either a quick singular viewer through items that are searchable in Omeka’s advanced search query (unfortunately for our viewers it appears that our non-advanced search bar does not display results at all), or a more immersive interactive experience through an exhibit where the viewer can see the content with none of the source information that comes with the item viewer (Dublin Core) mode in Omeka. One downfall of the exhibit page viewer, however, is that users cannot use the search bar to locate the pages, so they must utilize the menus created in order to conduct their viewing.
Through the exhibit pages and/or items in Keats Connections, when viewers select their choice of poem, letter, or contextual item, they are directed to work with clickable text embedded with links that, when clicked, leads them to the resources and works (poems/letters) connected with the property they are viewing; all of which open in new tabs to allow for quick comparisons between properties.
Within these connected resources are many different ways that information and connections are presented and explorable to viewers: there are location connections showing where Keats wrote specific poems and letters which have maps embedded in them; there are links to people that Keats was connected with that showcase images and textual information; there are Voyant-embedded textual analyses pages set up for each poem and letter; and a Neatline timeline that shows a broad overview of the key life events of John Keats in a visually stimulating map that takes users on a digital walking tour of his life and movements; it also acts to visually represent how his poetry and letters occur in historical time by showing where they exist in reference to space and time.
The many different ways Keats Connections presents information act in unison to bring the viewer into a uniquely digital visual environment. Having images and maps within the resources on Keats Connections immerses the viewer in the visual and spatial environment of John Keats; that is, they can see the people, places, and things mentioned in the words and better interpret the texts. The implementation of text analysis directly on-site lets users quickly see the most common words and themes in the texts without having to outsource the text themselves, and for those who were not aware of text analysis/Voyant Tools, it alerts them of the existence of such an ability in their future research. The timeline feature allows users to make conclusions about the occurrence of Keats’ poetry through a historical lens, making for a better understanding of the consideration of time in reference to Keats’ poetry and letters and also allows for viewers to make efficient connections between the important events in his life and writing. Finally, alongside these different ‘ways of viewing,’ Keats Connections has enabled the use of Hypothesis.is on every page of the resource, and we encourage users to make both personal and community annotations on the texts in order to collaborate on developing connections between sources and texts. We will implement the connections made by the annotations of the resource’s community by researching their connections and adding them to the resource; this action will not only cause Keats Connections to fulfill its goals faster, but it also creates a space that is open to the interpretive power of many minds working together rather than a one-sided viewpoint of the texts.
This project acts as an explorable ‘window’ into the personal and historical meanings behind Keats’ poems and letters, allowing scholars to share their research and for students and enthusiasts to gain a better understanding of the author and his poetry in an easily accessible format; it acts as a tool for further study and exploration in instances of focused research; and it meets the ever-growing need for the presentation of knowledge in a concise, transferrable, collaboration-friendly, and openly accessible format.
We hope you enjoy your time in The Keats Connections Project, and we also hope to hear your ideas and connections in Hypothesis upon browsing our mock-up.
Mariah, Josh, and Harjinder