Gustave Roud, Œvres Complètes

Visualizing genetic networks for literary criticism


TeamValentina Pallacci, Tommaso Elli, Andrea Benedetti, Michele Mauri


AreaArt direction, data visualization

This research adds to the body of works that attempt at visually representing genetic studies on literature. The project provides a visual representation of the creative process followed by Gustave Roud in the making of some of his most famous literary works. We refer to these visualizations with the phrase “genetic networks”, because they support scholars in inquiring the genesis of literary works. This work is part of the bigger initiative entitled Gustave Roud, «Œuvres complètes», funded by the FNS.

The project draws from a meticulous collection conducted on the archive of Roud by Daniel Maggetti, Elena Spadini, Alessio Christen, plus collaborators from the Université de Lausanne. They examined diaries, notepads, and other preparatory materials in search for clues and evidences of development of Roud’s ideas and writings. Their work produced a body of data that is compiled following a dedicated ontological model, which allows to store materials and the genetic relations that connect them.

The visual language of the genetic networks is synthesised with the employment of a visual metaphor. Our choice of “embellishment” resonates with a consolidated strategy in information visualization, aimed at improving the memorability of charts. The visualizations rely on astral charts through a visual language that enhance network graphs that encodes the genetic data.