Seeing the Body of Piers Plowman with Digital Eyes

Body. Corpus. The material manifestation, the incarnation, even, of the Piers Plowman text in real, fleshy (or pulpy), material objects.

If we think of the corpus of Piers Plowman as inclusive of all its various instantiations and incarnations, how do we think about seeing all of it at once? And moreover, how can we know the specificities of those discrete bodies that contain the poem?  What else might be in those same bodies with Piers ? What other limbs, organs, or members might this body have? What becomes visible if we decide to take the entirety of the manuscript corpus as intrinsic to our definition of what the Piers Plowman corpus–its material and textual body–really is? 

In an effort to try to see what kinds of texts make up this corporeal phenomenon, I attempted to create a single graphic that displays all of the contents of all of the various Piers Plowman manuscripts and their material relation to one another as well as the frequency of their occurrence in the corpus.

The result of that endeavor is this Data Visualization Network created in R with igraph package.

PiersGeneralOverviewPlot

PiersGeneralOverviewPlot

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