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Medea’s, Aragorn’s and Hannibal Lecter’s Social Networks

The latest in a series of student presentations has taken place at the ‘Modern Methods in Humanities’ course with students presenting work carried out with the use of network analysis and graph theory.

Network analysis can be applied in a variety of fields, from physics to political science, wherever objects of research can be modeled as graphs. Humanities haven’t been left behind with all of this: recently this technique has attracted philologists, philosophers and cultural researchers.

The ‘Modern Methods in Humanities’ course includes a total of six class hours of theory and practice of network analysis (three lectures and three workshops). As the students master the methods and the relevant software, they carry out their studies and present them to their colleagues.

The sheer variety of research objects has become one of the hallmarks of this course. Philosophy students Artem Kolganov and Maxim Konyaev used network analysis to study the position, role, and importance of slaves in ancient Greek tragedies (Slaves in Ancient Tragedy: Network Analysis). They analyzed such texts as Sophocles’ Antigone and Oedipus The King, Eschil’s Agamemnon and Choephoroi, as well as Euripides’ Medea and Orestes.

Ustinya Kosheleva, Anna Kondratieva, Daria Maximova, and Evgeny Lapin, students of linguistics, used network analysis to compare two different screenplays for the movie ‘Hannibal’, one of which was turned into a movie (Hannibal. Network Analysis). They found out that the filmed screenplay included less links, especially with supporting characters, and was less focused on Hannibal Lecter and more on Clarice Starling.

Philology students Evgeniya Fomenko and Ekaterina Nikiforova, together with Tatyana Orlova, linguistics student, studied networks in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. They investigated romantic relations between mortals and elves in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion (Social Networks in Love Stories of the Middle-earth).

Lubov Gerasenko and Varvara Rodchina, who study cultures, used network analysis to compare two versions of the popular action movie, Ocean’s Eleven, filmed in 1960 and 2001. The structures of networks turned out to be very different. Among other things, Danny Ocean’s leadership is much more visible in the remake as compared with the original (OCEAN’S 11 (1960) VS OCEAN’S ELEVEN (2001)).  

Anton Basov (Foreign Languages and Intercultural Communication) used networks to analyze the Downtown Abbey TV series. His study reveals the story dynamics from one episode to another (Downton Abbey: Network Analysis). 

Two other studies on TV series were about Fargo and Friends. The first (Fargo) was presented by Anastasia Vasilieva and Anastasia Malkova (Philosophy). The second (Friends.pptx) was prepared by Ekaterina Gordeeva (History of Arts).

Arseny Filtsev, philosophy student, analyzed the networks between hip hop singers in the USA, on the basis of their collaborations (Collaboration network of modern American hip-hop). He detected some identifiable clusters inside networks that correlate with geography (West Coast, South, New York etc).

Mikhail Schegolkov, Sofya Shklyaeva, and Kristina Pokrovskaya, history students, decided to go beyond history, literature, and culture. They studied the network of aviation routes between the cities of Russia and post-Soviet countries and compared it with that of Soviet times (Transport centralization of the post-Soviet space).

The modern network appeared to be much more centralized; almost all routes go via Moscow.

The colloquium with the papers was prepared by Frank Fischer and Daniil Skorinkin, lecturers of the course from the HSE School of Linguistics