Final Presentation Script: The Eyre Arc

“The Eyre Arc” Project Script

Title Slide:

Today I am going to be discussing my final project entitled “The Eyre Arc.” This project was inspired by a personal fascination with Jane Eyre and its *many* prequels and sequels. It began by asking whether or not it would be possible to track the similarities and differences between Bronte’s work and the subsequent adaptations, but quickly morphed into something much more complex. Reading further scholarship on Jane Eyre, I encountered many who claim this piece to be feminist in nature – a sort of female-empowerment autobiography for Bronte herself. This got me wondering about the ways I could integrate feminisms and adaptations together in some sort digitally analyzed project. And it was from there that my now final project emerged…

The Corpus Background and Research Question Slide:

My primary research questions are as follows: How can we look and analyze the impact of Jane Eyre and its adaptations through a new and inherently feminist lens? Can analyzing an original work in comparison with its adaptations shed light on larger, gendered issues outside of just that of the fictional story? To address these questions, I composed a corpus comprised of 3 sets of 3 – 3 novels per group that are all alike each other in some way and with each overarching set connecting by the centuries in which the works were published. The two groups — 3 Centuries of Feminist Literature and 3 Centuries of Anti-Feminist Literature –work to support my claim that 1) Jane Eyre and its adaptations are indeed feminist and 2) the ways in which feminism manifests itself in different centuries. So, what exactly will I be doing with this corpus to look at these questions? Well, my thesis is as follows…


“To tackle my research questions, I propose the use of digital tools, distant reading, text mining, and topic modeling to look at pronoun usage and corresponding verbs. Through an analysis of these verbs in this preliminary experiment, I begin to trace the shifts of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wave feminism across the adaptions of Jane Eyre.” For this project, I utilized AntConc to track the N-grams (she/he and corresponding verb usage) first for each novel, then for each group. I then analyzed not only each of the novels individually, but also how each of them adds to our understanding of their group as well as interpreting the group results as their own unit. I then analyzed each of the groups in comparison to one another. I also utilized Voyant to create graphing visualizations for each grouping to track the frequency of she/he usage. Now to look at some of the results…

A Brief Overview of (some of) the Results Slide:

I choose to include here just my analysis of The Eyre Arc. I should also note that I opted to primarily look at what I am calling active verbs (i.e. not the most frequently used verbs like “will” and “is”). We can see here that (and this is further supported by the “he” N-grams for the groupings) that women go from wanting and answering, to wishing, asking, and taking, to insisting, feeling, and thinking. We witness here (and this would require a discussion longer than this presentation to go into the ins and outs of the different feminist movements) a noticeable shift in 1) activeness of verbs and 2) agency of verbs. In this way, I take this data as demonstrating that Jane Eyre and its adaptations do indeed represent in some way (and this would require much more data to prove definitively) that we can use literature to track and distantly analyze larger social movements. So what are the key takeaways…

Key Takeaways for Analysis Slide:

Looking at the pronoun-verb N-grams within the Jane Eyre and its adaptations has two major takeaways: it allows us to track 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wave feminism through an analysis guided by understandings of what women sought and achieved during these different movements; and it allows us to examine a new way in which we might utilize literature (and specifically adaptation) in order to change and/or add further meaning to monumental social movements. With these ideas in mind, I think this methodology could be further applied to other genres of literature to further explore the way fictional spaces are influenced by (and influence) our reality.

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