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Bibliography by Amanda Phillips

Page history last edited by Amanda Phillips 14 years, 5 months ago


Annotated Bibliography Assignment


By Amanda Phillips, Flight Paths Team


 1. Bearman, Peter S. and Katherine Stovel. “Becoming Nazi: A model for narrative networks.” Poetics 27 (2000): 69-90. ScienceDirect. Web. 11 Feb 2010.



Bearman and Stovel explore the potentials of narrative mapping and network analysis in understanding narrative sequence. Their choice of “becoming Nazi” texts, testimonials taken from former Nazis who trace their social and political journey toward Naziism before it was a normative decision to make, are is strictly literary, but they apply a network analysis model to them in order to understand the elements involved in becoming a Nazi. As social scientists, Bearman and Stovel point out that the “more standard framing... is to ask why people become Nazis” (71) while ignoring the underlying process of becoming; focusing on narrative structure, which is a temporal arrangement of events, will expose this becoming.


The choice of network analysis to study these stories is firstly an acknowledgment that networks and narratives have similar structures. Bearman and Stovel point out that “narrative, historical and network data are locally dense, often cyclic, knotted, and characterized by a redundancy of ties” (71). They express the hope that applying network methods to narratives will help them answer the questions of 'how' and 'why' simultaneously.


After mapping the narratives and submitting them to network analysis methods, the conclusions are somewhat underwhelming: Bearman and Stovel find that there is a significant structural difference between “becoming” and “being.” However, they are able to identify the (unintentional?) annihilation of self involved in the process of becoming a Nazi through the resulting narrative network structure.


2. Marin, Alexandra and Barry Wellman. “Social Network Analysis: An Introduction.”in Eds. Peter Carrington and John Scott. Handbook of Social Network Analysis. London: Sage, 2010. n.p.


Marin and Wellman offer a very basic introduction to the analysis of social networks. This field “takes as its starting point the premise that social life is created primarily and most importantly by relations and the patterns formed by these relations,” a paradigm that minimizes the importance of features of individual nodes in a network. According to social network analysis (SNA), for example, an individual's position with relation to other individuals has more influence over the decisions that she makes than personality characteristics. SNA strives to understand events and individuals with respect to context.


SNA allows researchers to consider the nuanced ways in which people become connected to one another. In contrast to thinking in terms of groups, thinking in networks acknowledges that “membership” is not a totalizing experience, and that a group's members have varying roles and degrees of immersion within a group. Mapping networks also exposes group-like relationships that may bind nodes in ways not immediately apparent to other types of observation. The focus is on actual relations, not limited to those that are recognized as culturally significant.


Once networks have been mapped, Marin and Wellman indicate a number of ways that analysts can interpret them. Formalist theories look at the mathematical form of these networks, while structuralist theories speculate on how patterns inherent in the network can expose important facts for particular disciplines.


While Marin and Wellman's work focuses on social networks, it is easy to see how these principles can be applied to other types of networks – specifically networked novels like Flight Paths. Other scholars, such as Bearman and Stovel, have already begun applying network analysis principles to narrative texts.


3. Pullinger, Kate. “Digital Fiction: From the Page to the Screen.” Transdisciplinary Digital Art. Sound, Vision, and the New Screen. Berlin: Springer, 2008. 120-6. SpringerLink. Web. 11 Feb 2010.

Pullinger, one of the creators of Flight Paths, discusses her transition from a “traditional” print author to one who works with digital texts, and specifically one who takes advantage of the affordances of the digital to overcome its major challenges. When faced with the steep learning curve of producing polished digital texts, Pullinger realized that collaboration could solve her problem of being a good writer but a bad Web designer. Collaboration with other artists, though facilitated by the Internet, is something that Pullinger practiced offline prior to her experiments with new media, however she describes it as a threat to “all notions of the single authorial voice, including the supremacy our culture awards to the idea of the solitary writer” (121).


While musing about the changing terrain of writing, Pullinger warns publishers and authors alike that they should ignore new media at their own peril. For Pullinger, the Web offers an unprecedented opportunity “for mass participation in the creation of stories” (124). However, her discussion of A Million Penguins, a wiki-novel in which she was involved, predicts some of the challenges facing her new project, Flight Paths: “As a work of fiction, ‘A Million Penguins’ is almost unreadable; as a work of participatory media, ‘A Million Penguins’ was a huge success – a fiction project for its writers, not its readers” (125). This insight into the project of networked novelwriting has important implications for the study of Flight Paths.


4. Pullinger, Kate, Chris Joseph, and participants. Flight Paths. 2010. Web. 11 Feb 2010.


Flight Paths is a “networked novel” assembled from the contributions of two “main” authors and anyone else from around the Internet who is inspired by the premise. Flight Paths is based on the story of Mohammed Ayaz, a Pakistani man who stowed away on a British Airways flight from Bahrain to London. Ayaz died in transit, trapped in the wheel well of the airplane, and his body fell to the ground when the landing gear of the plane deployed over a supermarket near Heathrow Airport. There have been several such incidents reported over the past decade near the same store, which happens to lie beneath a landing pattern into Heathrow.


An ongoing project, Flight Paths provides a forum for contributors to develop and add onto Ayaz's story, which has taken shape into the converging paths of Yacub, a laborer escaping exploitation in Dubai, and Harriet, a London housewife doing her weekly shopping. Contributions are truly multimedia: Flight Paths features audio, video, text, and photo submissions from its users. Discussion threads are left intact to trace the creative process. According to the Flight Paths blog, Pullinger and Joseph added five short videos in 2009 to serve as a “core” story for the project.


The Flight Paths “universe,” despite the efforts of its creators, seems to struggle with providing a coherent narrative or even thematic experience. Ayaz's story, which begs a critique of exploitative labor practices and the relation of London and the West to the origins of the flights, instead inspires quaint flight vignettes and pictures of airplanes. There are gestures at border crossing difficulties, but nothing refers to the central pieces that compose Flight Paths.


5. Kalamaras, Dimitris V. Social Networks Visualizer. Vers. 0.81. 24 Jan 2010. Web. 11 Feb 2010.


Social Networks Visualizer is open source software licensed under GPL3 that allows users to create and perform basic analysis on (social) networks. Because this software allows the manual mapping of networks instead of uploading data for mapping (though this is an option), it does not restrict the user to the creation of social networks. It has a simple GUI, in contrast to similar programs available for free, which makes it a useful tool for those not comfortable to mapping via command prompts or tweaking code. Social Networks Visualizer calculates basic metrics such as density and shortest network paths as well as more complicated calculations like centralities.


Social Network Visualizer GUI


The GUI is quite simple, offering buttons to add nodes and links. The interface also allows double-clicks to add nodes to the map.



This screenshot is provided by the official Social Network Visualizer website, showcasing the extent of the networks that can be created.

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