The Dynamic Networks of 19th Century Newspaper Reprinting

22 Mai 2024

Hands on History talk with Ryan Cordell, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

What was the geography of newspaper texts' circulation in the nineteenth-century United States? Scholars understand that many of the texts—including news, fiction, poetry, information, and more—which circulated through the newspaper exchange system originated in urban publication centers on the east coast, such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, and that circulation often followed postal routes, train lines, or (eventually) telegraph wires. But the more granular dynamics of circulation have proven much harder to trace within massive newspaper archives, particularly the movement of texts among smaller urban and rural areas. Even less clear have been the ways that regional texts circulated from their places of origin back toward the metropole. Drawing on aggregated reprinting data from the Viral Texts project, this lecture shows how dynamic social network analysis can model the "information cascades" of the nineteenth-century newspaper exchange system, focusing not on the commerce between individual papers but instead on the larger geographic trends of circulation. This talk especially seeks to forefront regional circulation networks that operated outside of or alongside the hub-and-spokes model often assumed by accounts of newspaper exchange and publication. Finally, the talk will show how these aggregate views of information can help us understand, by alignment or contrast, the unique trajectories of specific reprinted newspaper texts.



Ryan Cordell is Associate Professor in the School of Information Sciences and Department of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, as well as Affiliated Faculty in Informatics. Cordell primarily studies circulation and reprinting in nineteenth-century American newspapers, but his interests extend to the influence of computation and digitization on contemporary reading, writing, and research. Cordell collaborates with colleagues in English, History, and Computer Science on the Viral Texts project, which uses robust data mining tools to discover borrowed texts across large-scale archives of nineteenth-century periodicals. Cordell serves as a Senior Fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Critical Bibliography at the Rare Book School and also directs UIUC’s Skeuomorph Press & BookLab.


Wednesday, 22 May 2024

14.00 - 15.00

C²DH Open Space (4th floor, Maison des Sciences humaines) and online.