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Grant number: FEL-257658-18

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Lauren Frederica Klein
Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA 30332-0001)

Data by Design: An Interactive History of Data Visualization, 1786-1900

Preparation of a web-accessible, digital monograph examining the history of data visualization in the United States and Great Britain from the late 18th to early 20th centuries.

Data by Design: An Interactive History of Data Visualization, 1786-1900, challenges the common belief that visualization serves as a neutral method for data’s display. In a series of five “data narratives”—chapter-length web-based texts that employ interactive visualizations in order to advance their claims—I trace the rise of modern data visualization techniques. I connect what I term the “visualizing impulse” to Enlightenment ideas about the primacy of visual knowledge, and to the related concepts of subjectivity, agency, and the human. I show how data visualization carries a set of assumptions and arguments about how knowledge is produced, and who is authorized to produce it. Illustrating how these assumptions were both upheld and contested over the course of the nineteenth century, through both specific visual practices and key political events, I reveal how historical epistemologies, as much as visual form, continue to influence the design and reception of visualization today.

Project fields:
American Studies; History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine; Media Studies


Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2018 – 6/30/2019