Assignment #2—Visualizing Text
For this assignment, we will be changing gears in how we think about novels. The first paper had you focusing on traditional themes within a work of literature, while this assignment will find a different approach to analyzing a text. We will be using a suite of tools, called Voyant Tools, to explore different approaches to making meaning and finding themes in a text.
Voyant is a suite of tools that lets you use tools more often associated with computer science, especially data mining, to explore and create interesting charts and graphs of a novel. For instance, you can create various graphs, diagrams, and charts using this tool. These tools, which let you take a more detached perspective than the previous paper, allow for an overview of a text without worrying about your own biases as a reader.
What Are People Doing With Voyant?
Here are some examples of using Voyant in a humanities context:
- Text Mining with Voyant — This is an especially good discussion of what Voyant is and how to use it to draw conclusions from a text.
- Positive and Negative Words in Modernist Little Magazines
How To Look at a Text
You can load different elements or different texts into Voyant. As such, you can produce a myriad of different levels of analysis.
- Explore one novel using Voyant tools—What does this analysis of word usage tell us that we may not otherwise know?
- Contrast two or more chapters from a novel—What does comparing the word usage of differing chapters in a single book tell us about action or character or theme?
- Compare chapters or whole novels in two or more novels—What does comparing, say, action sequences or important characterization moments in two authors tell us about how meaning is made? What can we say about the differing approaches authors take to plot?
Remember, also, that you do not have to load both texts (if you are working with two texts) into the same Voyant corpus. You can produce two sets of graphs and discuss them.
Things You Will be Producing
In constructing this analysis, you will produce three things.
- Thing 1: The analysis—Export the Voyant session (or sessions) you were using in preforming your analysis. This can be done by clicking the diskette icon in the upper, blue portion of the Voyant window. Copy the provided URLs into a text file or word document.
- Thing 2: The meta-analysis—Explain what new, exciting, interesting, or informative conclusions you drew from your analysis in Voyant. Did you learn something about style? character? action? Explain your conclusions in a 5 page paper, including any relevant tables or figures from Voyant. You can save the figures in a number of ways.
- Voyant can export HTML code that you can include in a webpage, if you would rather write a web document.
- Alternately, you can take screen captures of your charts and figures. There are a lot of tools you can use to capture these images. Email or drop by office hours if you need help.
- Thing 3: The reflection—Reflect on using Voyant, especially in contrast to the thematic analysis in Assignment #1. What did you like? What didn’t you like? Do you think your conclusions are more or less interesting when you use this tool? This should be at least 2 pages, but feel free to write more if needed.
Help With Voyant
There is not a lot of useful documentation for Voyant, but here are two guides:
Additionally, remember to try Googling your problem. There are a lot of other people using Voyant Tools who have documented how they did things in their own projects.