UVA Scholarship on Sexual Violence: Mapping the Collection

The Omeka Collection “UVA Scholarship on Sexual Violence, 1974-present” brings together the research and resources related to sexual violence created by UVA faculty and students, that are held in library collections at UVA. This visualization seeks to illustrate the breadth of this scholarship and highlight the key nodes of production.

This visualization organizes the collection items by type of research produced: academic work by UVA faculty and students, work published by UVA, student responses, administrative responses, and journalism about UVA.

To illustrate connections, the items are further grouped into departments, university groups, journals, or other larger entities. The people included in this diagram were chosen due to their involvement (authored or advised) in two or more works in this collection and help to highlight connections between works and departments.

The circles matching the legend on the left side of the page correspond to individual works. Scroll over these to see their title, date of publication, and link to visit the item’s page, with the full item record.

Hover over circles to highlight links. Double click to zoom-in, or use your mouse scroll-wheel to zoom in/out. Click and hold anywhere inside the visualization to drag/move the entire diagram.

Emily Mellen, UVA Library Scholars' Lab Public History Intern (2019) and Praxis Fellow (2018-2019).

This visualization was developed over the course of summer 2019. The collection, on the other hand, was created by Rachel Newman between 2016 and 2017. While I was not able to talk to Rachel about the collection process, I know that the intention of the collection is to demonstrate that people at UVA are thinking about sexual assault and have been for a long time. I used a network visualization in order to allow people to see the various forms that this published discourse on sexual assault has taken, the prevalence of this research, and the range of disciplines and perspectives that are approaching it. In addition, hoped to identify specific departments and people who have taken on this cause particularly strongly. In fact, I was able to identify certain people as nodes who were a part of publishing multiple pieces on the subject and they are shown on my visualization.

The style of the visualization highlighted certain aspects that I thought were important, but also created some problems of representation. Because of different publishing conventions, science and figures in science and perhaps overstated in comparison to humanistic studies. Science publications tend to be collaborative and shorter, which raises the instance of both publications and of number of appearances of certain names. In the humanities, on the other hand, publications tend to be longer, published more infrequently, and almost invariably credited to only one person. This method of visualizing plays down the contributions of these humanities publications. In addition, when considering who to credit for a publication, I considered primary authors, secondary authors (who could be leaders of a lab, but not necessarily as deeply involved), and advisors of student work all equally. Then, for visual clarity, in the diagram I made direct connections from department, to “author,” to work. This makes it easier to identify the strong nodes and where works may tend to emerge, but can also obscure the true authors of the work. For example, a professor’s name may be the only one attached to five dissertations, giving the impression that this professor was primarily responsible for these works. This may reinforce problematic hierarchies within academic divisions of labor and credit. I acknowledge and am frustrated with this problem, yet I still find it useful to visualize things this way as it may indicate a proclivity for a certain kind of work by certain professors, which is exactly the point of identifying nodes. On the other hand, it may be misleading.

Another issue of representation has to do with the mode of collecting and the transfer between collection and visualization. Because of the time that had passed since the creation of the collection, I was not able to speak to Rachel about her collection process. So, the extent to which this scholarship is representative of everything produced at UVA is unclear to me. I suspect that there are more works of scholarship on sexual violence produced at, around, or about UVA since 1974, particularly during the earlier parts of this time period, but in order to know that for sure or to know what this collection represents well, I would have to know the choices made in the connection process.

This visualization is intended as a tool for glimpsing the potential of this collection and as a point of departure for further research. It can suggest areas where there is room to do further research, but that research is necessary in order to ascertain the accuracy of the visualization’s suggestions. I encourage readers who are interested to look further into this scholarship and to contact us with questions, corrections, or other contributions.

Elizabeth Mitchell, Community Advocate in the UVA Library Scholars' Lab and data visualization developer.

Emily developed the concept for this visualization using Gephi, an open-source software for graph and network analysis. Gephi is an excellent tool for exploratory data analysis and for quickly producing network visualizations. With Emily's direction, I took her network visualization concept and built this force-directed graph using the D3 javascript library. The network visualization on this page intends to highlight Emily's work on this collection.