Themes Across Victorian Literature – Group 3

Group 3: Sandy Brahaspat, Mallory DelSignore, Domenica Piccoli, Jasmine Vrooman

In completing our group project, we decided to use the online software Kumu to map out prevalent connections between themes like conventional gender roles, appearance and character identity, class, marriage, revenge, and anguish in Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Society in America, In Memoriam, and Reuben Sachs. We began our project by assigning different texts to our group members to draw connections between our selected themes, however, we quickly realized that we worked better together than apart. We quickly learned that being able to bounce ideas off each other and draw connections from multiple texts ensured the depth of our content and we were able to gain a wider scope of Victorian literature by making these connecting our themes to our five texts. 

In operating Kumu, you must first add “element bubbles” which categorize a main idea or thought, or in our case, selected texts, characters, or themes. Each “element bubble” can be connected to other “element bubbles” by implementing connection lines. These connection lines operates as a pathway to view the connection visually because it holds the descriptive content that explicitly states the connection with text evidence. After doing this multiple times, our creation ended up looking like  “spider web” map. At first, Kumu was a little difficult to navigate as the organization can seem overwhelming when making various connections. However, after playing around with the outline and the accessibility of the program to move bubbles and lines around, we found a way that seemed less overwhelming. For example, we first created individual bubbles for our chosen texts, then with a connecting line from the corresponding texts we added the character bubbles, after that we created the element bubbles for our selected themes and then began drawing connections between characters from the novels to our themes. For example, in our text bubble for Wuthering Heights we made a connection between Heathcliff’s character and the theme of Gender Roles. After addressing this connection, we made the assertion that Heathcliff’s treatment towards Isabella is indicative of the toxic masculine gender roles that he exemplifies throughout the novel. 

Despite the power of Kumu, we wish there was a way to directly connect multiple texts to each other as well as the theme; this would make the project a bit more seamless and allow it to be seen from another perspective. In addition, we found it difficult to put the Kumu presentation together because it did not operate like google docs, where all contributors can work at the same time on the same project. In order to view updates or changes to our project, we had to constantly refresh the page which proved to be rather time consuming. Nonetheless, the mapped out project still conveys the connections between themes across our chosen texts very well. 

In order to help you effortlessly navigate our project, we have provided a detailed guide with instructions that should clarify any confusions or concerns you may have. 

To begin, visit our map at:

Once you have arrived at our page, follow the directions listed below.

Step 1: Click on the bubbles with the images of our selected authors for a brief introduction of their texts. From left to right, you will find Emily Brontë, Harriet Martineau, Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, and Amy Levy.  For example, if you hover your cursor over the Charles Dickens bubble, you will find a brief introduction about Great Expectations and an illustration of the soft cover Penguin edition.

Step 2: Click on the bubbles with the character names for a brief introduction about their roles in their respective novels. For example, if you click on Miss Havisham’s character bubble, you will find a brief snapshot of her life and an image from the 2013 film adaption of Great Expectations

Step 3: The orangey-yellow bubbles below the character bubbles indicate the specific themes we narrowed our focus on. From left to right, you will find class, appearance and identity, gender roles, anguish, marriage, and revenge.

Step 4: To isolate a specific theme, hover your cursor over a theme bubble. 

Step 5: The lines that connect the characters or texts to specific themes contain our analysis of the connections. Click a line to learn more about how and why we made our connection. 

Step 6: Repeat and Enjoy!

Group 4: Refelction

Group 4: Places That Show The Development Of Pip

By: Kathryn Capone, Emma Sens, Clare Corbett, Cameron Luquer, Kristopher Bangsil, and Isa Higgins

Our goal with this project was to delve deeper into the places that Pip visits in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and learn about how they affect who he is and who he becomes. All of these locations influence Pip in some way; they all impact his behavior, thoughts, and/or growth throughout the novel. Some of the same places even have a different meaning to him as the novel progresses. Our map that we made can be helpful to anyone who has read Great Expectations and wants to understand more about how certain places connect with Pip. They can click through the locations on our map to use as a study tool, or simply use the map to learn more about Pip’s connections to different locations and how they influence him. Overall, we wanted to use this map to explore Pip’s journey in a more tangible way to examine how he develops.

The process to complete this project required each of us taking 10 chapters from Great Expectations, and making a list of the different places that Pip visits. Then, we had to narrow down our list to only the most significant places; our lists in the beginning were long, so we had to decide which ones we wanted to write about. We chose the ones that we thought seemed to impact Pip the most. Next, we created our map and we each marked the places that we chose. Notably, some research was involved in finding these places because the novel itself wasn’t fully clear as to where some of these places are in real life. For instance, the Halfway House and Marshes involved some research to approximate where they were. After that, we all had to make our connections between what happens to Pip at our chosen locations and describe how they influence his characterization. Then, we put these connections in the descriptions of each of the places marked on the map. Additionally, we found pictures online of most places to give a visual of what they look like, and we made sure that they are all labeled for reuse to avoid copyright. Using Google Maps offered an interesting and innovative way of documenting Pip’s character growth in a more tangible medium. When looking at the map and reading the descriptions, you can see how each space mold Pip and how with every lesson learned, his expectations change. One thing that is not shown by the map is how some marked places are important to multiple chapters since they are commonly visited places by Pip. However, this obstacle was tackled in giving descriptions of the overarching meaning of a place in tandem with specific recountings of events that occurred at that location. 

One example of a connection we made between a place and Pip’s characterization is in chapter 54. This is when Pip is on the Thames River with Magwitch and he has a huge revelation about him. After they’re caught by the customs officers Pip states, “For now, my repugnance to him had all melted away; and in the hunted, wounded, shackled creature who held my hands in his, I only saw a man who was meant to be my benefactor” (75). Thus, he realizes that Magwitch was meant to be his benefactor and he no longer feels any judgement towards him. Interestingly, his revelation happens on a river, which could be symbolic because the water could represent a “baptism” for Pip; this is because he is able to wash away his previous mistakes in judging someone based on the label of a “convict,” and gets rid of believing in the assumptions that society makes about him. Essentially, Pip now sees Magwitch as a kind and sympathetic man; he uses the language of “hunted,” “wounded,” and “shackled” when describing Magwitch. All in all, Magwitch is no longer the scary and intimidating creature he previously thought that he was. Here, our connection that we made is that the water of the Thames allowed for Pip to fully cleanse himself and represents how he is a fully changed person from before because he no longer cares about labels or his status. 

These connections, and the project itself gave us a deeper understanding of who Dickens was and what his beliefs were, taught us how to create our own Google Maps, and we were able to develop deep connections with the novel about Pip as a character. In creating this map, we were able to see how various characters relate to different places and how illuminating it can be to see a character outside of the place they were initially introduced in. For example, when Joe goes to visit Pip in London, a time when he’s becoming a “proper gentleman”, he makes a conscious effort to refer to Pip as “sir” because of his newly elevated status. Joe rarely slips in his polite dialogue, and when confronted about it he explains how he must treat Pip properly now that their roles have changed. In seeing Joe out of his house and out of the forge, we are able to see other aspects of his character that we may not have previously seen, which is also true to Pip and how different locations and people bring out different parts of his identity.

This is the link to our map with all of the places we selected to demonstrate Pip’s character development along with explanations.

Connecting the Experiences of Women in Victorian Literature

Project by Group 2- Logan Carpenter, Hayley Jones, John Serbalik, and Emily Tsoi

Blog Post Written By Emily Tsoi and Hayley Jones

Process and Challenges Faced in Creating the Project:

When we were first assigned this project, we initially ran into some trouble as there were many topics we were interested in, but could not decide on one. We first thought of creating a timeline about Wuthering Heights, but then realized we had nothing to connect it to as Wuthering Heights takes place in the early part of the Victorian period so it would be difficult to connect it to other works we have read. We then decided to go in a different direction by looking at London and how it was used as a human space across the texts. We quickly realized, however, that it would be difficult to make these connections as we were limited in the selection of texts containing London. We were stuck on where to go from there, but we were then shown what some of the other groups were working on and we were presented with the program, Kumu. We all instantly thought it was a great way to demonstrate connections across texts and were then inspired to look at some of the female characters we’ve encountered and how they all connect to various themes that we have looked at throughout the course.

When selecting characters we gravitated toward Catherine Earnshaw and Cathy Linton in Wuthering Heights, we initially had Nelly Dean on our list, but realized that it would be difficult to connect her to our themes as she is mostly narrating about other characters and there was not a whole lot of insight into how she personally experiences certain themes such as education. We also knew we wanted to include the female characters of Great Expectations, Estella, Miss Havisham, Biddy and Mrs. Joe as they all offer varying experiences across our chosen themes so we wanted to compare and contrast them with one another, but also with our other chosen characters. Finally, we also chose to include Judith Quixano from Reuben Sachs as she offered a different experience/perspective from the other chosen characters because she is Jewish, so we wanted to see how similar or how different she is from the other characters.

When choosing our themes we picked out what we saw as being most relevant in each of our texts according to what we had discussed in past class discussions of our literature. We picked Education, Social Class, Marriage/Love, Religion, and Defying Authority/Societal Norms. Now, as aforementioned we ran into some difficulties connecting every chosen character to each of our themes and so for some of the characters we did not make any connection to a theme, for example, it was difficult to connect Estella or Miss Havisham to Education as there is not really any mention of it in Great Expectations. In addition, we also ran into some difficulties making connections from one character to another through certain themes and so for a few of the characters, we did not make any through some of the themes. For example, it was difficult to make a direct connection from Judith to any other character through Education as she did not have access to education/books in the way that the Catherines or Biddy do.

In order to organize our thoughts we created a Google Doc as we thought it would be easiest to get all of our thoughts down first before inputting it into the Kumu. This would make it easier for us to edit/revise. We then met and inputted all of the information we found into the Kumu which shaped out to be a great medium to see these connections as we had originally thought.

The Project:

Here is the link to our actual project on Kumu:

Through our project you can visually see the various connections that we made between characters and themes in addition to connections made among characters.

How to Use the Project:

When you open our project, you will see there is a general map overview containing our explanation of our project along with any relevant source information. Further, you will see a legend in the bottom left of our map. There you will find what each color node (bubble) or edge (line that draws a connection between the nodes) represents. For example, the purple nodes represent a character and a red edge represents a connection between a character and theme (we could not figure out how to delete the bottom two items in the legend so pretend they are not there). We thought Kumu would be an excellent medium to present these connections as you can visually see these connections through the edges connecting to the nodes.

In order to navigate our project all you need to do is simply click on whichever node or edge you would like to look at and then read our thoughts in the window that will pop up on the left hand side of the screen where the map overview was.

Our connections between characters and the selected themes will present you with textual analysis of how that particular character connects to that theme while our connections between characters will present you with our explanation as to how the two characters connect through that particular theme.

Here is an in-depth look at how one might use the project:

If I wanted to look at Catherine Earnshaw, I would click on her node (circled in the image below). Once I have clicked on her node, a box will pop up with a brief character biography explaining who she is and what work of literature she derives from.

As you can see there are multiple edges (lines) connecting her to various other nodes. Let’s say I was curious about what the blue connection at the top says (in the image above, the red arrow is pointing to it). According to the legend in the lower left of the map, the blue line represents the “Characters Connection Through Education”. In order to view it, I would simply just click on it.

After clicking on it, this box on the left side of the screen would pop up with the explanation of the connection we made between Catherine Earnshaw and Cathy Linton through Education.

To view another connection, I would simply click on another edge/line and that connection would pop up on the left side of the screen. We really liked this medium of presenting connections because of its’ simplicity to navigate from connection to connection, something you would not easily get through a website platform that we were originally thinking about.

Overall Thoughts On Our Project:

Overall, this project helped us see that even though it seems like the literature we read this semester ranged over such a vast amount of time during the Victorian era (nearly one hundred years from the time Wuthering Heights takes place to the time Reuben Sachs was published), took place in different parts of England, and focused on women from varying backgrounds, the female characters we have studied are all connected in some way to the central themes we have been analyzing in class. By no means is any woman’s experience the same as another’s, but it helped us to see that no matter how different these women may seem, they share similar experiences with one another.

Group 6: Reflection

For our project, we were interested in gaining a better understanding of the role family plays in both Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations. We can also begin to understand what role family plays in Victorian literature in a more general sense by comparing and contrasting these two family systems as samples. We felt that noting similarities between the families was important to help decide which character connections would be most beneficial to our project. For example, Pip and Heathcliff’s histories as orphans who go from rags to riches makes them a compelling duo to focus on. By then showing the differences between the characters’ familial relationships however, we are able to understand what effects these relationships had on their development. Why do two characters who have so much in common in terms of background turn out so differently? This project seeks to answer that question, along with many other questions regarding the family systems within these novels.

Mapping out a genealogy of the families in Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations allows us to not only demonstrate connections within the families of their respective stories, but also helps to make connections between both of the novels. Many similarities and differences between the families can be deduced simply by looking at the visual layout of the trees, while others can be understood by reading the included bios and relationship descriptions. Focusing on these familial relationships, connections between the novels become visible.

To further expound on the Pip/Heathcliff example, it is worth acknowledging other similarities in their backgrounds. As stated, both of these characters were orphans, and they were each adopted into families where one or more individuals treated them with cruelty: Mrs. Joe for Pip, and Hindley- along with a few others- for Heathcliff. However, Pip and Heathcliff react very differently to their situations, and our project hopes to offer some sort of insight as to why that is. We put an emphasis on many of the important relationships in these novels, and acknowledging these relationships makes questions like this clearer. In this case, although Pip and Heathcliff come from similar backgrounds, it seems that Pip’s relationships with parental type figures such as Joe, and later Magwitch, have an important effect on him. While Pip is an outcast for much of the story, the presence of characters like Joe throughout the entirety of the book give him some sense of family and belonging. Heathcliff however, loses his one truly nurturing parental figure early on in Wuthering Heights. With Mr. Earnshaw’s passing, Heathcliff’s sense of belonging dies as well. Even Catherine’s romantic love is no replacement for familial belonging.

Our Kumu family tree consists of individual characters, represented by different colored circles, and lines of relationship between characters. Clicking on the circles will pull up that character’s bio, which gives a brief overview of his or her history and significance to the story. The various lines branching off of the circles represent their relationships with other characters. Let’s look at Pip for an example of this. When you click on his character circle (IMAGE 1), his bio will pop out from the left (IMAGE 2). Because Pip is the central character of Great Expectations, he has more relationships than the other characters of the story. One of these relationship lines connects him with Estella. Clicking on the line that connects the two will open their relationship description (IMAGES 3&4). This can be done with every character and every relationship within both Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations. This allows viewers to compare and contrast the family systems in each of the novels. We included a few examples of characters and relationships that may be connected between the stories, such as Pip and Heathcliff or Estella and Catherine. Clicking on the lines that link these characters will bring up an explanation of how the characters from the different novels are connected. We also included an example of relationships we felt parallelled each other in the novels: Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship compared with Pip and Estella’s. However, we feel that the project allows viewers to easily make their own connections between the books, as well as to build an understanding of the functions of these family systems. Something that seemed to emerge from the analysis of both family units is how patterns of abuse are transgenerational. In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is abused by his “family,” particularly by Hindley. Heathcliff in turn treats the next generation, Linton and Hareton, with similar cruelty and contempt. Something similar can be seen in Great Expectations. Pip grows up in a household where he witnesses Joe, his father-figure, accepting abuse from Mrs. Joe, Pip’s maternal figure. With this serving as Pip’s primary model of family and love, he goes on to fall in love with Estella, from whom he accepts similar abuse.

After deciding to focus on familial connections in the stories, we began trying to figure out what tool or website would be best to design our family tree(s). We worked off sort of “base models” of the family trees that Ashley created in Google Slides (IMAGES 5&6). This was really important in figuring out which characters needed bios, and which relationships we wanted to focus on. The first program we tested was an online family tree builder called FamilyEcho. The website was interesting, but it presented several challenges such as how we would demonstrate relationships and make them interactive. We also played around with the website designer Wix, where we tried to build a website to display the genealogies and connections. However we decided that this was not an ideal format. Dr. Schacht suggested the website Kumu, and after exploring it, we decided it was perfectly suited to our project. Kumu shows different bubbles which have the names of the characters in both of the novels we are exploring. The lines show the connections that these characters have with each other. When pressing on the line that links two characters together, we can see their relationship to one another or how they might be similar. The entire time we were testing different programs, we used Google Slides as a workplace, where we wrote up the character bios, relationships, and connections. This made it extremely simple to adapt to whatever format we were testing at the time. The end result of all of this is a study in how nurture takes precedence over nature or circumstance.

Group 1: Reflection

This project was inspired by, and further unearthed certain connections between, the chronology of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Both novels feature chronology as a storytelling element in a distinct way that remains important to their narratives beyond a simple linear accounting. 

These two novels and their chronology are not connected by a shared feature. Rather, they are linked by the tension that results from their contrasting depictions of time. This connection through tension is worth considering as the comparison between the two disparate representations of the passage of time can give readers of both texts the choice to decide which novel’s rendition they feel is more authentic. In addition, it indicates how the usage of time, which every story must feature, can fundamentally change how the story is perceived by its audience. 

Indeed, the chronologies constructed by Bronte and Dickens could not be more different. In Bronte’s novel, time occurs in a cyclic manner; the novel’s characters are doomed to repeat the mistakes and experience the very same hardships of their predecessors. For example, Heathcliff is determined to make his wreck vengeance upon his tormentor, Hindley, by making Hindley’s son, Hareton, just as rough and coarse as Hindley made Heathcliff. Thus, Hareton grows to be exactly like Heathcliff and even falls in love with Catherine II, a woman who more or less tortures him by teasing him and chastising him. In doing so, he falls into the same cycle of romances that Heathcliff did with Catherine I, the mother of Hareton’s love. Catherine made Heathcliff miserable by choosing to wed another, Edgar Linton, through Heathcliff certainly contributed to the pair’s “romance” through his harsh attitude and intense and violent disposition. Furthermore, the characters are trapped in certain places and scenarios; they move cyclically from Wuthering Heights to Thrushcross Grange, but as the gaze of the novel never leaves these locations, the actions of the characters appear to definitively tied to them. The characters are left figuratively and literally orphaned and left without guidance. 

On the other hand, Dickens’ representation of the passing of time and its effect upon his novel’s characters is of a far more linear fashion. Pip grows from a young boy to a grown man, and along the way, he learns valuable life lessons that spur and signal his internal growth from insecurity to stability. At the outset of Great Expectations, Pip is ashamed by his family, his coarseness, his lack of education, and his place in society: a member of the lower, allegedly unrefined class. This linear trajectory of Pip’s rise in social standing, fortune, and gentlemanly training, is ultimately undermined and reversed when he stumbles into massive debt and discovers the true source of his expectations. However, it is as a result of these supposed setbacks that Pip truly grows. He realizes that wealth and status are not the ingredients that create a happy individual, as these aspects encouraged Pip to neglect his family who always loved and cared for him. By the end of Great Expectations, Pip is self-assured and content with the life he has, for he knows he is loved by his family and friends. He has grown and matured as an individual in a way that the characters of Wuthering Heights could not. 

To illustrate the chronologies of both novels, we constructed two timelines using the online source tool, Timeline JS. In order to create these timelines, we first needed to locate the dates or potential dates when each novel’s primary events occur. We selected events that were particularly critical to the connection we were attempting to make. So, for Wuthering Heights, we sought out instances that affirmed the cycles we perceived within the novel’s narrative. For Great Expectations, we attempted to trace the events that marked Pip’s personal growth, but maintained the illusion of monetary or societal “progress” by refraining from analyzing the events of the novel as indicative of Pip’s internal, spiritual maturation. Moreover, finding the dates for Wuthering Heights was not especially difficult, as Professor Schacht kindly shared with us a very helpful source, A. Stuart Daley’s “A Chronology of Wuthering Heights,” that provided for the confirmed or theorized dates and times that we used in our timeline. Finding the dates for Great Expectations was a more difficult process, but eventually we used the confirmed and theorized dates from Jerome Meckier’s “Dating the Action in Great Expectations: A New Chronology.” We then entered these all of our compiled dates into the respective timelines. Upon locating and entering the dates of all the events we wished to present, we entered in titles and descriptions that both labeled and explained the event to which they belonged. Once this step was completed, we set to work finding copyright-free images that illustrated the events within our timelines. Lastly, a small piece of writing that effectively explains the link between the two timelines was written such that individuals engaging with the project might better understand our motivations.

Throughout the course of working on the project, we faced many challenges. The first challenge we encountered was how exactly we were going to illustrate the cyclical nature of time in Wuthering Heights with Timeline JS, a tool that, at first glance, seems only able to express linearity since it moves laterally from date to date and cannot readily display circularity. To circumvent this issue, one group member discovered that the backgrounds of the particular event slides could be programmed to appear as different colors when the timeline is presented. Upon making this discovery, we set to work color coding all the different cycles we believe to be at work within the novel. We find that this solution really works, as Timeline JS even has a feature that appears at the bottom of the timeline that demonstrates when each of the cycles appears across the play’s chronology. Thus, we were able to use Timeline JS and express the cyclical nature of time in Wuthering Heights. Another challenge we faced was finding a source that presented confirmed or theorized dates for Great Expectations. While Dickens’ novel does at times mention months or days of the week, years are noticeably absent from his work. Thus, we could not rely on the novel alone for dates. Rather, we had to do significant research in order to find a source that did espouse theories regarding the dates in which the events of the novel occur. Most experts seemed to concur that the events of the novel occurred before 1860, when Dickens began releasing the novel, and 1800, roughly the beginning of the industrial revolution, As that is a sixty-year period, we had to somewhat narrow the time frame. We ended up finding only one article that seemed to accomplish the aforementioned task, but it was absent from our school’s library. So, we ended up having to create a free JSTOR account in order to access it. Lastly, we encountered the challenge of how we were going to simultaneously present our two timelines. We initially thought of making a website, though this seemed like an inaccessible option, as the site would likely see little traffic. So, Professor Schacht offered that we should post the two timelines and our corresponding linking text on the course blog, thereby ensuring that our project will be interacted with and enjoyed. 

Furthermore, we hope that individuals who interact with our project will be able to deduce our intended use from it. The intended usage of these timelines is a comparative approach to the novels’ respective chronologies, and demonstrates how these disparate chronologies can lead one to draw contrasting conclusions regarding human nature and the overall experience of life. By interacting with the Wuthering Heights timeline and witnessing the cycles we located, labeled, and color-coded, we hope that our audience will notice the circularity of Wuthering Heights’s narrative, and conclude that the novel’s characters were never really able to break free from the clutches of these cruel, unrelenting cycles. We also hope that in our Great Expectations timelines, one will notice that, despite his rise and fall from high society, Pip truly experiences positive linear growth, even if it is an internal and spiritual journey. He recognizes that riches truly come from within, and from the love others can provide, not from grandstanding and competition with one’s peers. Moreover, it is our intention that those who engage with our project will take it upon themselves to compare the two chronologies and ponder which one they believe is more applicable or accurate to their own life experiences. We hope that individuals using these timelines can then will spark conversation or debate regarding the nature of life. Are we humans really just trapped in a never-ending cycle, doomed to repeat our own and our predecessors’ mistakes? Or do we bear the potential for true, internal growth, wherein we can recognize and learn from our past mistakes in order to recognize that which is truly valuable? To what extent do people disagree with the conclusions we’ve formed? Perhaps someone has found that Bronte and Dickens created their stories with a completely different thematic purpose in mind. We hope that individuals will read not only our interpretation of the two timeline, but will also draw their own conclusions and perhaps contest our group’s views. 

Lastly, we would like to provide our audience with instructions on how to engage with and navigate the two timelines that we have constructed. In order to use our timelines, one simply has to scroll through the timeline’s events by clicking on the forward arrow on the slides’ right side. To go back, then, one can click on the backwards arrow on the slides’ left side. It is quite simple. For the Wuthering Heights timeline, in particular, one can exclusively investigate the different cycles embedded within the novel’s narrative by clicking through the events that are housed within the cycle of “Character Parallels,” for example. One would then only see events that signal the reoccurrence of certain characters or character tropes and would therefore only see events like “Birth of Catherine I” and “Birth of Catherine II.” Timeline JS is relatively easy to use and produces wonderfully clear timelines. We hope that you enjoy!

Wuthering Heights timeline (as seen above)

Great Expectations timeline (as pictured above)


Hannah Bentivegna: Auxiliary Aid and Timeline Editor
David Beyea: Timeline and Writeup Editor
Anonymous: Timeline Documentor of Wuthering Heights
Claire Corbeaux: Timeline Documentor of Great Expectations
Ravenna VanOstrand: Timeline Editor, Organizer, and “Tech-Wizard”

Works Cited:

Chapman & Hall. Title page of first edition of “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens. 1861. Heritage Auction Galleries. 

Daley, A. Stuart. “A Revised Chronology of Wuthering Heights.” Brontë Society Transactions, vol. 21, 1995, pp. 169-173. Taylor & Frances Online,

Lowell 1238.5 (A), Houghton Library, Harvard University

Meckier, Jerome. “Dating The Action In ‘Great Expectations’: A New Chronology.” Dickens Studies Annual, vol. 21, 1992, pp. 157–194. JSTOR,

Group 5 Reflection

The aim of our project is to situate the themes of our novel in a physical and historical context. By way of this, our thematic map allows for a visualization of the physical spaces that influenced the writers and their work. The abstract nature of the ideas presented are also made more clear with a link to the real world, with that, our map aims to imbue a readable symbolism in each place we made connections with. There is also the necessity to pay attention to the environment of the author, for there is no doubt that Emily Bronte was influenced by the North York Moors and Dickens was influenced by the grand chaos of London. 

The map is able to effectively demonstrate the connections by linking sections of the text to the physical spaces they mention. In turn, the accompanying blog posts elucidate the text and author’s connection to the space, allowing for a nuanced treatment of how the text’s setting and the author’s environment holds a significant influence over the way we mine for meaning. There is also the added fact that bringing these locations to the forefront allows for an aspect of the text that is frequently relegated to the background. The map, and its charted line, allows for a sense of the immensity of connections made by the authors we have read in class, for to see the route that each of these authors track through and discuss, reminds us that these texts had a global impact. 

The most effective way to use the project is to follow the route outlined on the blog, so as to best understand the immensity of these texts. If you want to find some accompanying pictures, just click on the pin that is present in the embedded map at the top of the post. You can also zoom out from the map at the top of the blog post to better situate where you are in the United Kingdom and the world! From there, you can get the full scope of how the setting and the environment influenced the text and the author. As a final activity, you can check out some of the tourist spots that serve as further entertainment to the modern traveler. 

For example, if you want to learn more about Oscar Wilde and his artistic process, then follow these steps! Firstly, open the map (located at the bottom of this post), and either search Oscar Wilde’s name or go to the side bar and scroll down to the locations related to Oscar Wilde. Specifically, we will be using the location of Reading Gaol. Such as that, click on the pin, browse through the pictures at your leisure, and then click on the link to the author’s blog post. This is an eminently important location to reflect on because it is not only where Oscar wrote De Profundis (and was inspired to write The Ballad of Reading Gaol) , but because he continually references the jail and its effect on Oscar Wilde. Moreover, De Profundis marks a cynical turn in Wilde’s philosophy, and it is crucial to reflect on the dehumanizing and demoralizing elements of prison. Each of these considerations adds to our understanding of Oscar Wilde and the Victorian prison system. 

The challenges in regard to the map were largely technical. The first major one was deciding whether to use StoryMap JS or Google Maps. We eventually chose Google Maps, even though it meant using a less aesthetically beautiful software. Of that, we had to learn the system of Google Maps, and learn how to search for images that were free to reuse. On a larger level, we had to think deeply on the locations we chose, and interrogate ourselves on why or if they are actually important. As for that, some of the locations we initially thought we would choose ended up falling to the wayside, simply because we did not feel they added to our understanding of the text and its author. There was also the task of writing our blog posts, and to most effectively communicate what we thought was most important about the locale. Of that, we decided to focus more on the textual connections to the location, while sometimes using the history of the location as a way to add more to our understanding of the text. But these challenges felt small due to the great cohesiveness of our group! Everyone was always able to work together, and no one felt alienated or isolated from the process. Indeed, this group reflection was typed in real-time with contributions from everyone.

You can access the blog with this link

And you can access the map with this link

Connextions: Reflecting on this Semester

The biggest takeaway I have from this semester is the connexions that I’ve made within the texts we’ve read but also across timelines. Dissecting stories like Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations in a way that was character and theme-centric allowed me to see the way that the human experience transcends the construction of eras, location, and society. Reflecting on the political/historical significance of Society in America and Darwin’s findings grounded me in the time period as well as the progression of thought that was happening at the time (with the industrial revolution and the beginning of a fight for women’s rights, for example). It also exposed me to some of “the classics” that I’ve heard so much about and can now discuss the intricacies of: my opinions on Heathcliff and Catherine’s clandestine affair, the translation of the overarching theme of great expectations from Great Expectations, the political significance of Harriet Martineau’s writings.

A “Wilde” Author

Oscar Wilde made many contributions to the Victorian literature movement. His sexuality was a double-edged sword in his success as a. We learned in class that his intimate relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas was detrimental to his reputation as an author. During the late 19th century in Britain, the Criminal Law Act (1885) stated that intimate relationships between same-sex couples were illegal. Thus, Wilde’s fiction was used as evidence by Douglas’s father to tarnish the reputation of Oscar Wilde. This was just the beginning of an effort to delegitimize Wilde’s value as an author and human being. In the following trials, he was found guilty of the original offenses and spent two years in prison. Shortly thereafter, he died from natural illnesses. His worth as an author was constantly undermined by a sexual identity he couldn’t change.

 Possibly the most disturbing effect of these trials was its effect on the greater society. It only grew fear of same-sex couples, a fear not necessarily focused on prior to these trials. I think what is most interesting about Wilde’s sexuality is that it seems to have transformed its meaning, as evidenced by a shift in the focus of his literature. For example, The Picture of  Dorian Gray appears to have celebrated homosexuality. There is a noticeable change in Wilde’s attitude when he wrote De Profundis during his prison sentence. While examining this article in class, it seemed to suggest that Wilde was discovered a newfound appreciation for Christianity. The life of Wilde is celebrated for his literary achievements, yet plagued by stigmas on sexuality that I’d say prevented his greatest potential. The life of Oscar Wilde changed my view on sexuality because I recognized the impact that a homophobic society can have on a single person’s ability to succeed.

What I’ve learned this semester

Last semester I took Digital Humanities with Dr. Schacht and learned so much that I decided to take another class with him this semester. He always chooses such enjoyable readings and formats the class so we all learn from each other. The weekly research he has different groups do really does a great job of giving some background information on the pieces we are reading. Overall, the most interesting thing I learned about Victorian literature this semester was the class structure in Wuthering Heights. It was so interesting I decided to write my research paper on this subject! It gave me a good sense of why the characters were acting in such a manner and the reason for their actions. The difference in class structure helped explain why the characters were so selfish and aided me in understanding the novel better.

The Victorian Connection

In thinking about this class as a whole, and what I would write for this blog post, I spent some time thinking about the name of the course, Victorian Connections, and what exactly that meant. I tried to think of some connecting force, a single thread, that tied everything we read this semester together. what I came to was this: in almost everything we read this semester, every writer seemed to be driven to their pen by a deeply ingrained sense of purpose. Writing was a tool for them. In the case of writer’s like Carlyle, Shelley, Blake, Mead, and (arguably) Dickens, it was being used to persuade, a way of pouring their convictions out on paper in an attempt to get the world to agree. For others, like Tennyson and Bronte, it was used to explore abstract and difficult concepts like love, grief, and connection, in what I believe was their attempt to come a little closer to finding the answers to the big questions that abstract concepts like these always tend to raise. This drive to use writing as an instrument towards a higher goal is something I haven’t spent much time thinking about before, but I truly believe it’s a concept that the writers we read this semester were almost all familiar with, and I find that deeply fascinating.