Digital social network analysis and ancient literature: Libanius’ Epistolary Ego-Network

Posted on 16 January 2013

Talk: Dr. Lieve Van Hoof (Lichtenberg Kolleg – Georg-August Universität, Göttingen) "Digital social network analysis and ancient literature: Libanius’ Epistolary Ego-Network".


Date: Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Time: 17:00-18:30

Venue: TOPOI-Haus Dahlem, Hittorfstr. 18, 14195 Berlin (map).

Poster: Download the PDF here.


Recent years have seen a boom in the application of digital social network analysis to ancient history and archaeology (e.g. Schor, Ruffini). Greek and Latin literature, however, have seldom been studied from this point of view. This paper explores the opportunities and challenges involved in applying digital social network analysis to the letters of Libanius (314-393 A.D.).

Against traditional close readings of a selection of letters, social network analysis presents, for the first time in research on Libanius, a quantitative as well as qualitative analysis of the whole of the letter collection. The result will be a thoroughly different image of the collection and its author, with more attention for cultural and religious interaction and for diachronic evolutions. Whilst highlighting these advantages, this paper focuses on the difficulties involved in the process of carrying out social network analysis. Based on work in progress, it thus presents a well-defined example of, but also invites critical reflection on, the application of digital analysis to ancient literature.


Or you can download the slides from here.