Literary scholarship centres on gleaning textual insights and constructing new narratives that inform or explain these insights. Comparing iterations of a text, or collating, can provide insights into the changing nature of a text across time and modes of publication.
At JCU, your instructor might use Juxta Commons to facilitate discussion on how a particular text has transformed across time, and as a base from which to guide close reading or further research. As a student of literary studies, using Juxta Commons will develop your comparative analytical and interpretive skills. You will be able to apply these skills to any text that needs to be assessed across time, allowing you to link those changes to a larger context.
Juxta Commons is a digital collation platform that enables you to compare between two and twenty iterations of a single text in order to identify where the iterations differ or have remained stable. The identification of changes across a text’s versions can give clues as to how the text was constructed, how the text was received by its audience, or how the mode of publication dictates textual content. Changes can be visualised in three ways: side-by-side, a heat map, and as a histogram.
Consider the three visualisations that compare the 1818 and 1831 versions of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Each visualisation illustrates considerable changes between chapter one in the 1818 version, and the additional chapter in 1831.
Watch the Juxta Commons walkthrough, check out the user guide, and begin collating your own texts quickly and easily.
The following examples have been sourced from:Wheeles, D. (2013). Frankenstein, chapter 1. Retrieved from http://juxtacommons.org/shares/4bulXV/heatmap?base=3458&top=0
Side-by-side view enables you to scroll through two texts at the same time. Changes are highlighted in blue in each text pane, and are linked in the centre space. Hovering on a section in the centre pane highlights the collocated sections in the individual text panes. The example below highlights where the new chapter two of the 1831 version of Frankenstein was inserted, as well as other extensive changes.
Histogram offers a high-level view across the text with the length of the bar indicating the degree of change in sections of the text as compared to the base version. The longer the line, the more drastic the changes. Taking the Frankenstein example, the histogram shows that the most extensive changes between the Frankenstein versions surrounds the chapter one split.
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Selecting the heat map option mixes high-level and detailed views. It visualises the extent of change between versions, with colour-coded highlighting indicating the degree of change from the base version (1818 Frankenstein). The darker the highlighting, the more drastic the change. The pane on the left offers a high-level view of the extent of the changes overall. Each text in the collation set is shown with a bar that indicates how different it is from the base version. Clicking on a specific highlighted portion of the base text brings up a window that shows the revised version.
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