Author Biography

Ileana Baird is an Assistant Professor of English at Zayed University, U.A.E.. Her areas of interest include eighteenth-century British literature, visual and material culture, and digital humanities. She is the editor of a collection of essays titled Social Networks in the Long Eighteenth-Century: Clubs, Literary Salons, Textual Coteries (2014), the co-editor of a Eighteenth-Century Think Theory in a Global Context: From Consumerism to Celebrity Culture (2013; republished 2018), and the author of articles on Alexander Pope and his circle. Her book project, Spaces, Networks, Things: Mapping the Public in Early Eighteenth-Century British Culture, sets The Dunciad in Four Books into parallel play with the most recent technologies of digital humanities to shed new light on publicness as an emerging category at the beginning of the eighteenth century.


This article uses visualizations of Eliza Haywood’s social networks, as described in The Dunciad in Four Books (1743), to make visible her relations with the other characters in the poem, and the nature of these affiliations. The tools used to generate these visualizations are GraphViz, an open source visualization software that creates topological graphs from sets of dyadic relations, and SHIVA Graph, an application used to visualize large sets of networks and navigate through them as through a map. In Eliza Haywood’s case, this model of social network analysis sheds new light on the nature of Pope’s attack on women writers and on the role Pope assigned to the novelist in the cultural space of early eighteenth-century London. These social graphs also make visible the poem’s main “connectors,” and its “hall of infamy” (i.e., the seventeen characters that seep into all the networks of the poem). By focusing attention on less dense clusters of relations, this model of social network analysis highlights what Mark Granovetter calls “the strength of weak ties,” or the role played by peripheral characters within the poem's plot network.


the Dunciad's social networks, Eliza Haywood, Alexander Pope, the strength of weak ties, connectors, bridges, networked public