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Literary Lineage

One day to be a graphical representation of how one writer influenced another.

Literary lineage, perhaps?

I fell in love with the concept of literary lineage when I was working on my MFA.  In fact, I almost did a thesis on it after I found myself writing more about how writers (poets specifically) became poets than I was writing about their craft.  Sure, I wrote alot about craft, but what intrigued me most was their path to their art.

Then, once I found poets I liked and after I had a good grasp on how they became poets, I was intrigued with how each was influenced by their peers, their mentors, their long-dead favorite poets, and the contemporary writers that directly and indirectly influenced their work, etc. I thought, “Hmm, I wonder if we can graphically account for these direct and indirect influences?  What would be the categories?  How could we get accurate assessments?  And, does anybody really care?”  Ignoring the last question, I plunged ahead.

I had to come up with a concept sketch to try and better explain my elusive idea to my potential thesis advisers. This was it, from July 2018

literary lineage concept sketch

I think this is how we–the “we” there wasn’t accidental, folks. 🙂 –can trace the literary lineage/heritage of any given writer, with the width of the line denoting the significance of the experience (let’s say on a 1-10 scale), the colors denoting various categories of influence, dotted lines for yet-to-be data, and the ability for any contributor to add supporting references/citations for each line of influence.

But this is far too large a project for one person (well, this one at least), and I think this could be best accomplished in some form of crowd-soured, wiki format, but I do not know how to set those up, or if there is any interest, or ideas outside of my own head that will make this project even better, so I’ll just lay this out here now so that perhaps one day we can collectively brainstorm some ideas and make this idea a reality, and not just a holding page.

Please do reach out if you have any suggestions or are interested in chatting more about this.