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
- Watch every presidential debate since 1960
- Clinton-Trump Debate Expected to Be Rare Draw in a Polarized Age
- Obama hails opening of the African American Museum
- Palestinians' Abbas seeks British apology for 1917 Jewish homeland declaration
- Anger as Churchill's home turned into Hitler HQ for Transformers 5
- Karl Dietrich Bracher, German Historian of Nazi Era, Dies at 94
- Allan Lichtman predicts Trump will win
- Doris Kearns Goodwin scores an interview with Barack Obama
- Art historian Kellie Jones wins a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant
- Historians note that prisoners have been treated inhumanely throughout American history