2022 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Steven Olsen-Smith and Dr. Elisa Barney Smith


Herman Melville’s self-education, extensive library, and voracious close reading, including his inscription of markings and annotations within these books, has been documented and known for decades. However, scholarly treatment of this marginalia varies in its extensiveness. Scholarship specific to Melville’s final months of dedicated reading and markings in his seven volumes of German Pessimist philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer is both sporadic and underdeveloped. Encoding in Extensible Markup Language (XML) of marginalia to these volumes has allowed for the parsing of marginalia data through data visualization in the form of frequency tables, graphs, and word clouds. Analysis of parsed and visualized data alongside crafted prose presents new opportunities for understanding larger marking patterns across volumes as well as close inspection of recurrent themes across marginalia and prose. This approach shines new light on philosophical overlap and contrasts present in the prose Melville composed concurrently to his reading, yet left unfinished upon his death: Billy Budd, a Sailor.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.