This project will address the lack of digital representation of the contexts behind Keats’ poetry represented by his experiences and responses to the world around him as seen through his letters and through historical contexts occurring around him. 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 and his letters. There is the well-documented “Keats Letters Project” that produces each of his letters on the 200th anniversary of their authorship, 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 to the most celebrated area of his life: his poetry.
Not only will this specified digital project act as a comprehensive resource for scholars of Keats, it will also, in future developments, act as a template for other projects in the digital humanities that wish to address a need in the realm of other authors or texts towards the comparison of contexts and texts. This template will be open-source and editable to allow for all areas of research to develop an easily accessible and organized database. It will promote the sharing of information as it will be accessible to both those in a specialized area and those of general interest, and all projects inspired by the creation of the template will create an all-encompassing database of information on the web.
To address this gap of knowledge, this project will utilize timeline software, text analysis software, and text encoding software to present information on Keats’ biographical details, his letters in connection with his poems, and to show relevant historical contextual information that directly relates to his poetry. This project will utilize the Omeka platform and its plugins to bring it to life, specifically the Omeka-driven Neatline application that allows for the creation of unique and personalized visual projects. The project will use Shanti Interactive tools (specifically “Many Eyes” and “Shiva” to create a timeline visualization. Orange by Biolab will be used as a text analysis and processing software. Timeline software (Timeglider) will be used at the bottom of the screen to place the letters in a historical context by date: each letter will connect to the timeline with an identifying mark to place it in relevance to history and to Keats’ life. The timeline will be clickable, with the option to minimize it into a spanning line or maximize it on a particular point of interest. Researchers will have many options of browsing including searching by letter, poem, or date with the option for a timeline (showing contextual dates) or page (of poem or letter) viewer. These options allow for inquiry in multiple forms, making room for the development of unique projects that stem from the information the visual-digital database provides.
The poems and letters will be displayed as a document with clickable highlighted text that opens a box beside the originating poem/letter of interest detailing information that connects the poems, letters, and contextual information in one place. The highlighted text will allow users to view the corresponding information to each highlight as they read a poem/letter. Multiple matches for one highlight will open all matches for that highlight at once with scaling ‘boxes’ that automatically adjust to allow all boxes to fit, but also allow the viewer to select sizes if they so wish. If the viewer wishes to see all the contextual information for a poem or letter, they may click “view all” at the top corner of the poem/letter’s screen. This will push the poem to the top of the page instead of to the side and all the contextual/connecting information will be viewable below the poem.
The ‘boxes’ will be closable to allow the viewer to choose which information to view. They may be opened again by clicking on the link within the originating text. If the viewer wishes to see poems compared with contextual information they may open a new instance of the project in a new tab or window. This allows for the project to remain as uncluttered as possible.
The timeline at the bottom of the page will act as a reference point for the dates of the viewed poem / letter, showing the reference date(s) with an indicator. There will also be a timeline viewer that will show the timeline in full view and state all dates referenced, and will have information on historical and biographical contexts relevant to Keats.
This project aims to target the gap of knowledge towards easily visualized connections between texts and author contexts in a digital environment. It will act as an explorable ‘window’ into the personal meaning behind Keats’ poems to gain a more easily accessible understanding of the author and of his poetry. It will act as a tool for further study and explorations in not only Keats scholarship, but as a future template for all other areas of focused research. As such, this digital project meets a growing need for a concise and transferrable space that draws textual connections in a digital-visual environment; instead of spending time accessing separate information from multiple areas and tracking down texts to then make connections, scholars and students can use more time towards the development of their ideas and publications based on information they have secured in an organized digital format.