Here’s How Memes Went Viral — In the 1800sHistorians in the News
tags: digital humanities, digital history
The story had everything — exotic locale, breathtaking engineering, Napoleon Bonaparte. No wonder the account of a lamplit flat-bottom boat journey through the Paris sewer went viral after it was published — on May 23, 1860.
At least 15 American newspapers reprinted it, exposing tens of thousands of readers to the dank wonders of the French city’s “splendid system of sewerage.”
Twitter is faster and HuffPo more sophisticated, but the parasitic dynamics of networked media were fully functional in the 19th century. For proof, look no further than the Infectious Texts project, a collaboration of humanities scholars and computer scientists.
The project expects to launch by the end of the month. When it does, researchers and the public will be able to comb through widely reprinted texts identified by mining 41,829 issues of 132 newspapers from the Library of Congress. While this first stage focuses on texts from before the Civil War, the project eventually will include the later 19th century and expand to include magazines and other publications, says Ryan Cordell, an assistant professor of English at Northeastern University and a leader of the project....
comments powered by Disqus
- The First Time a Plane Was Bombed
- Female World War II Pilots Can Now Have Their Ashes at Arlington National Cemetery
- Obama Signs Bill Removing ‘Negro,’ ‘Oriental’ from Federal Laws
- ISIS Destroys Ancient Adad & Mashki Gates in Nineveh, Iraq
- Geographical names with “Jim Crow” are history in this state
- Timothy Garton Ash Puts Forth a Free-Speech Manifesto
- Iowa historian makes independent bid for US Senate
- British feminist historian declines prestigious Israeli award following BDS pressure
- Robert W. Gutman, Biographer of Wagner and Mozart, Dies at 90
- Greg O’Malley’s go-to slave trade database will soon show more than the path the ships took from Africa to the New World