Bittersweet: A Cultural History of the Smile


Dr Tyne Sumner
School of Culture and Communication


Catherine Gay
School of Historical and Philosophical Studies

Xingcheng Wang 
School of Languages and Linguistics

Project description

As part of the ARC-funded Discovery project Literature and the Face: A Critical History, this project seeks to create an accessible and engaging digital exhibit on the facial expression of the smile. Moving between the universal and the particular, the interactive online space traces the smile from antiquity to the modern-day, from Ancient Greece to Twitter, showing us how the smile has been recorded in stone, paint, ink, paper, and pixels. The exhibit also aims to use digital materials to show how the smile has changed over time by historicizing its various uses and meanings with timelines, maps, and distant reading approaches to some well-known literary texts. Bittersweet: A Cultural History of the Smile uses an interdisciplinary, mixed methods and mixed media methodology by working across art history, literary studies, linguistics, computational text analysis and cultural theory. The team created a dynamic visual and textual narrative using ArcGIS StoryMaps to explore a range of events, locations, and digital data. Take a look around!

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