The use of digital and computational methods has transformed the kinds of questions we ask, the evidence we gather, and the expressive platforms we use in humanistic inquiry. We bring these new methods to our reading of Victorian pornography. Using Voyant tools to text mine underground works like Teleny, The Romance of Lust, and My Secret Life, we read them on an unprecedented scale. The word clouds and scatter plots we have generated visualize word frequency and topic clusters and help us find meaning in previously undetected narrative patterns and authorial tendencies. Using new communicative platforms like podcasting, we are also leveraging digital capacity for more interactive and public-facing forms of critical discussion about Victorian pornography that reflect new directions in the field.
How can we use word frequency to analyze the meaning behind a novel? By employing text mining and creating a word cloud, we can see how word frequency patterns foreshadow the ending of the novel *Teleny.*
To this day, there are a number of controversies surrounding the infamous homoerotic novel *Teleny,* such as its stance on homosexuality and whether Oscar Wilde plays a role in its authorship. This digital text analysis responds to these lingering questions.
Listen to our podcast about *The Romance of Violette.* We take an in-depth look at the sexual contract signed by a man, a woman and a girl and the three points at the heart of this contract.
In his 1972 introduction to *My Secret Life*, literature scholar Gordon Grimley argued that the work was written by rumoured *Romance of Lust* author, William Simpson Potter. Text-mining software allows us to uncover heretofore hidden trends that might strengthen or undermine Potter’s candidacy.
*My Secret Life* is an incredible feat of literature, spanning over one million words and eleven volumes. The question is, what changes occur over the course of the novel? This artifact uses text mining software to compare the first and last volumes of the text in order to examine the changes in Walter’s character over the course of the novel.
-E. L. Huxley
There is no denying that the protagonist in *My Secret Life* is obsessed with all things erotic. But was Walter born a compulsive, sexual deviant? It does not seem likely, so this artifact analyzes the most repeated words in the first chapter to identify the sexual triggers in Walter’s early life.