Alex Sherman: Four Theses on the Real and Imaginary British Empire, 1697-1829

Tue May 30th 2023, 12:00 - 1:15pm
Wallenberg 433A

Alex Sherman's CESTA Seminar


The entanglement of colonial power’s cultural and material manifestations has been an important topic in anti-colonial thinking. I tentatively term this the problem of relating the imperial imaginary and imperial reality. This presentation discusses the first complete phase of a project on the imaginary and real geographies of the eighteenth-century British maritime empire, using digital methods (custom named entity recognition) and mapping to compare place names mentioned in maritime fiction and nonfiction to the movements of British ships. In addition to those results and analyses, I will speculate on future research that might venture beyond this period and track more than place names.  

Cosponsored with Stanford British Studies (Department of History).

The presentation will include lunch and take place at the Stanford Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis in Wallenberg 433A. A Zoom link is available upon request from Center Manager, Jonathan Clark (jclark93 [at]

About the Presenter:

Alexander Sherman, a Ph.D. candidate in English at Stanford University, studies literature and science in the eighteenth century, along with the digital humanities and the geography of colonialism. He is a coordinator for the Stanford Literary Lab and collaborator on several projects there. His dissertation, Dangers Near and Far: Virtual Positions in Scientific, Maritime, and Gothic Writing, links those three bodies of writing to argue for how lasting epistemic and narrative norms come from attempts to manage the dangers attending British overseas colonial expansion. His work has appeared in Cultural Analytics and Post45 and is forthcoming in PMLA.