Art history in a digital way: network analysis of Davison Art Center collections

Many know that Wesleyan has a very large collection of prints dating back to the 15th century, stored in the Davison Art Center (DAC). Not many are aware that, through the efforts of the DAC staff, the collection comes with an extensive dataset containing metadata for all records. In the fall of 2017, students from the Introduction to Network Analysis (QAC 241) got a chance to view some of the famous prints and then search for new insights in art history using their quantitative skills. This post describes the experiences, accomplishments, and challenges of working with art history data.

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Data Dive Post-Mortem

November 10th-12th saw the long awaited and oft rescheduled coding event, Data Dive, finally come to fruition. About twenty-two Wesleyan students gathered in the Exley fish bowl on Friday evening, and split into teams that tackled a multitude of questions related to gun data. After two days of work, the groups presented a fascinating combination of visualizations, analysis, and activism.

The participants explored a wide range of topics, from connections between gun sales and mass shootings, to location patterns of gun sales, to keywords that purchasers typically search for. As Wesleyan’s partner for this event, EveryTown, provided the volunteers with several extensive data sets. One of these was compiled from Armslist, an advertising site specifically allowing private sellers to market their guns to other individuals. While accessing the site requires confirmation that the individual is “18 years old, will follow all local, state and federal laws, and will not use Armslist for any illegal purposes,” Armslist itself does not ensure that buyers have a license or have completed a background check. This has led to the site being criticized by organizations like EveryTown on its lax approach to gun circulation.

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