An approach to digital humanities

“Mapping Paris” is a historical and literary research project that investigates, through data analysis, the relationships of meaning between cultural events and geographical space in nineteenth-century Paris. This project facilitates the sharing of open data for the historical, sociological and literary investigation of Paris and opens up to the collaboration of those who want to contribute to research.


Projects work 1

Mapping the “vie littéraire” of Goncourt brothers in Paris during the Second Empire

Projects work 2

The revenues of Parisian playhouses in the theatrical life of the Second Empire (1858-1867)

Projects work 3

Paris in the French Bildungsroman: Stendhal, Balzac, Flaubert

Projects work 4

Paris from Stendhal to Maupassant

The graphic rendering of the data

Paris from Stendhal to Maupassant


[Le Rouge et Le Noir]


The data repository is available on GitHub

Tool: Palladio Stanford


The visualisation of maps of nineteenth-century French novels taking place in Paris constitutes a solid approach to the study of nineteenth-century French society. The digital maps obtained thanks to the “Palladio” programme of the Stanford University Research Lab enjoy a considerable advantage compared to similar studies carried out in the past for several reasons: these maps are filterable according to the categories of our interest; these maps are intuitive thanks to the variable size of the dots according to the number of frequencies in the text; these maps are superimposable and allow direct comparisons of the topography of Paris between one and more novels.

Thanks to these three particularities of the digital maps, it is possible to trace a methodological path that allows us to draw the greatest knowledge and the best deductions from the French novels of the nineteenth century. There are three operational phases of the work: annotation of the texts; construction of the dataset; graphic rendering of the maps.

The Mapping Paris project ( currently includes the mapping of eight novels that best represent French society and Paris from the age of the Restoration to the Third Republic, passing through the July Monarchy and the Second Empire:

  1. Le Rouge et Le Noir by Stendhal, published in 1830 and whose action takes place in 1827.
  2. Père Goriot by Balzac, published in 1835 and whose action takes place between 1891 and 1820.
  3. Illusions Perdues (Un grand homme de province à Paris) by Balzac, published in 1839 and set in 1821.
  4. Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes by Balzac, published between 1838 and 1847 and whose action takes place between 1824 and 1829.
  5. L’Éducation sentimentale by Flaubert, published in 1869 and whose action takes place between 1840 and 1867.
  6. La Curée by Zola, published in 1871 and whose action takes place between 1862 and 1864.
  7. Nanà by Zola, published between 1879 and 1880 and whose action takes place between 1867 and 1870.
  8. Bel-Ami by Maupassant, published in 1885.

Michele Sollecito, Mapping the “vie littéraire” of Goncourt brothers in Paris during the Second Empire. An approach to digital humanities, Palermo, 40due edizioni, 2019.

Michele Sollecito, Roberta De Felici
(ed.), Edmond et Jules de Goncourt,
Théâtre, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2021


Michele Sollecito

Michele Sollecito is a researcher in French literature at the University of Bari “Aldo Moro”.

He studied dramatic criticism in nineteenth-century France, with a particular focus on the theatrical works of the Goncourt brothers (Paris, Classiques Garnier 2021). He holds a master’s in Digital Humanities from the University of Venice “Ca’ Foscari”.

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