Author First name, Last name, Institution

Ileana Baird, Zayed University

Document Type

Book Chapter

Source of Publication

Data Visualization in Enlightenment Literature and Culture

Publication Date



This introduction provides a brief survey of the evolution of data visualization from its eighteenth-century beginnings, when the Scottish engineer and political scientist William Playfair created the first statistical graphs, to its present-day developments and use in period-related digital humanities projects. The author highlights the growing use of data visualization in major institutional projects, provides a literature review of representative works that employ data visualizations as a methodological tool, and highlights the contribution that this collection makes to digital humanities and the Enlightenment studies. Addressing essential period-related themes—from issues of canonicity, intellectual history, and book trade practices to canonical authors and texts, gender roles, and public sphere dynamics—, this collection also makes a broader argument about the necessity of expanding the very notion of “Enlightenment” not only spatially but also conceptually, by revisiting its tenets in light of new data. When translating the new findings afforded by the digital in suggestive visualizations, we can unveil unforeseen patterns, trends, connections, or networks of influence that could potentially revise existing master narratives about the period and the ideological structures at the core of the Enlightenment.

First Page


Last Page



Arts and Humanities

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Open Access


Open Access Type

Hybrid: This publication is openly available in a subscription-based journal/series