"Six Degrees of Francis Bacon: History, Networks, Knowledge"

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

"Six Degrees of Francis Bacon: History, Networks, Knowledge"

“Six Degrees of Francis Bacon: History, Networks, Knowledge”
Dr. Christopher Warren, Dr.
 Raja Sooriamurthi, 
Ivy Chung, 
Sama Kanbour,
 Angela Qiu, 
Chanamon Ratanalert


This poster presentation will introduce a web interface for Six Degrees of Francis Bacon (SDFB), a collaborative, multidisciplinary, visual humanities project with wide utility for several subfields in early modern studies. Historians, literary critics, musicologists, art historians, and others have long studied the way that early modern people associated with each other and participated in various kinds of formal and informal groups. Yet their scholarship, published in countless books and articles, is scattered and unsynthesized. By data-mining existing scholarship that describes relationships between early modern persons, SDFB is creating unified, systematized representations of the way people in early modern Britain were connected.

In seeking to characterize early modern social networks in previous work, scholars have of course relied primarily on their most cherished medium, prose. Yet it is far from obvious that prose, or rather prose alone, is the most appropriate medium for representing social networks. Most editions of Shakespeare’s works implicitly acknowledge the limitations of prose when they choose to display the genealogy of English kings in the form of a family tree. The visual image of the tree conveys relationships with a clarity and succinctness that even the best prose stylists would be hard pressed to match. Yet it is not only for reasons of clarity and succinctness that a digital medium is superior to prose alone in representing the complexities of the early modern social network. Unlike published prose, our web interface is extensible, collaborative, and interoperable: extensible in that affiliations can always be added, modified, developed, or, removed; collaborative in that it synthesizes the work of many scholars; and interoperable in that new work on the network is put into immediate relation to previously mapped relationships.

  • Debating Visual Knowledge