Jonson’s political and aesthetic engagements make his oeuvre especially relevant to contemporary questions. The Jonson Character Cloud (JCC) aims to enable access to Jonson’s drama for students, performers, and the public at large. Currently, the project focuses on Bartholomew Fair, a play that offers numerous points of access to important topics relating to disability, sexuality, cognition, and the history of religion. Despite the longevity of its humor and its potential to spark scholarly discussion, the play is performed and assigned far less than Jonson’s other, more traditionally structured comic drama such as The Alchemist. JCC develops data visualization tools in new ways to support instructors who might wish to assign Bartholomew Fair, directors interested in adapting it for performance, and interested members of the general public.
JCC is the product of an interdisciplinary Computer Science/English collaboration. Dori Coblentz (Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow, Georgia Tech) and her 2018 Composition II class took point on content generation, summaries, and discussion questions. David Coblentz (Member of Technical Staff, Cohesity) is the project’s UI architect. He used an Angular framework, the VMware Clarity UI and D3 libraries, and NGX charts to develop interactive donut charts and a spring graph. The spring graph highlights each character’s relationship to others with color-coded lines. A character’s node corresponds to the number of words they speak, with Justice Overdo, for instance, having a large node and Puppy a comparatively small one. Clicking on a node, or on a character name beneath the node, highlights in blue the other characters that appear in the same scenes. Beneath this list is a set of donut charts representing wordcounts for each character, and the overall percentage of the play’s dialogue that the wordcount represents. On a basic level, JCC helps readers grapple with issues such as the difference between “Winwife” and “Win-the-Fight” (both of whom may be referred to as “Win.” in some editions). On a deeper level, the project uses student-generated discussion questions raised by these visualized connections to drive engagement with the comedy and to showcase its innovative formal structure.
See the project at jonsonoutlines.com