Absalom, Absalom! Video

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Using Digital Yoknapatawpha to Analyze Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! as a Gothic Text

By John B. Padgett

Absalom, Absalom! is an outstanding example of Gothic fiction, drawing from numerous tropes and motifs in the literary tradition that began in 1764 with Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. This video demonstrates some of the ways DY can be used to research and analyze the novel as a Gothic literary text, many of which can be adopted to other critical viewpoints as well. I provide a brief overview of some important characteristics of Gothic literature and then show how DY can highlight or illuminate some of these traits, including (1) ambivalence or uncertainty between what is "real" and what is not, (2) Gothic literature's emphasis on the past, (3) the frequent use of "doubling" or alter-egos in Gothic texts, and (4) the importance of a gloomy or foreboding setting in Gothic texts, especially the "haunted" castle or mansion.

After a brief overview of Gothic literature and Walpole's novel, most of the video focuses on the Map and Commentary page on Absalom, Absalom! in DY. The last few minutes of the video, however, focus on Visualizations (specifically, the Character-Character graphing feature) and on DY's "Search" function. The menu below provides the time markers for the larger units of the video; further down, below the video, I provide a more detailed itemization of the subjects and functions that the video covers.

DY features demonstrated in this video:
      Commentaries, "Faulkner and Maps" (3:56-4:33)
      Map and Commentary on Absalom, Absalom! (5:04-14:32)
      Events data via players and timelines (6:10-9:08)
      Characters data (9:08-12:13)
      Locations data (12:13-14:32)
      Visualizations, Character-Character graphing (14:59-16:31)
      Search, Events (16:31-18:58)

Below is a more detailed outline of points covered and the approximate time in the video at which each one begins:
00:36 - Review of key attributes of Gothic literature
01:45 - Walpole's The Castle of Otranto and the uncertainty between what is real and what is not
02:53 - Absalom, Absalom!'s inclusion of chronology, genealogy, and map of Yoknapatawpha County, which blur the lines between fiction and history
03:56 - Introduction of "Faulkner and Maps" in DY's commentaries
04:33 - Opening an individual text commentary from the main DY page
05:04 - Overview of the Absalom, Absalom! Map and Commentary page; understanding the base map
05:49 - Overview of Inset maps for region, nation, and world
06:10 - Overview of DY's representation of the novel's sections (chapters) and player timelines to view events in page order or chronological order
06:49 - EVENTS: Using "play" buttons to show the novel's events in place and time
07:37 - Using the "step" button to depict events one by one
08:30 - Timelines as markers of fluidity of time and emphasis on the past in the novel
09:08 - Overview of CHARACTER data in DY
09:29 - Different ways to display character icons
10:14 - Character icons as visual indicators of race, gender, and individual or group status
10:51 - Clicking icons to open individual character bios and other data
12:13 - Overview of LOCATIONS data in DY: Sutpen's Plantation as "haunted" castle or mansion
12:54 - Using "zoom" control to enlarge an area of the map; Sutpen's mansion as a gothic motif
13:30 - Other "gothic" locations near Sutpen mansion
14:02 - The Sutpen Cemetery as a Gothic motif
14:32 - Two other DY tools for analyzing texts: Visualizations and Search
14:59 - Visualization: Character-Character graph
15:52 - Using a Character graph to show connections and possible "doubling" between characters
16:31 - DY's Search tool for locations, characters, and events
16:53 - Limiting an "events" search by text to list all events in the novel
17:40 - Adding parameters to an events search to constrain results; using "keywords" feature to browse events
18:26 - Entering text for free-form search in DY's event summaries or keywords

    Citing this source:
John B. Padgett, "Using Digital Yoknapatawpha to Analyze Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! as a Gothic Text. Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia, https://faulkner.drupal.shanti.virginia.edu/content/padgettaavideo (Date added to project: 2020)