• Monday, November 28 by class

Your final blog post in this class is meant to help you work toward your final project. It has two parts:

Part 1: “Machine-assisted” close reading

As I’ve said in class, Only Revolutions proliferates data. Your task for the first part of this prompt is to try to get some kind of handle on this proliferation of data by experimenting with a popular online platform for digital text analysis: Voyant Tools.

NOTE: As it says on our online course calendar, I will be holding 2 brief out-of-class workshops on getting started with Voyant Tools on Wednesday, November 16. One workshop will be at 10 am, and one will be immediately after class. Both will be held in my office, Ashe 401. Please email me if you plan to attend either workshop, and please plan to bring a laptop to the workshop. I will explain the main features of Voyant and the basics of how to use it (we will work through steps 1-4 below together). If you would like help getting started with Voyant, please make every effort to attend these workshops.

  1. Download the Only Revolutions plain text files from our Blackboard site, on the Readings page. Like the course readings, they will come in a zipped folder that you will need to unzip. Save this folder on your computer in a place where you can find it again. This folder contains the following files:
  • Sam’s main narrative text
  • Hailey’s main narrative text
  • Sam’s and Hailey’s narrative texts combined
  • Sam’s chronology sidebar text
  • Hailey’s chronology sidebar text
  • Sam’s and Hailey’s chronology sidebar texts combined
  • A list of all of the dates associated with Sam’s chronology
  • A list of all of the dates associated with Hailey’s chronology
  1. Read the Voyant Tools Manual: http://voyant-tools.org/docs/#!/guide/start. Specifically, read these sections to familiarize yourself with the interface:
  • Getting Started
  • Creating a corpus
  • Modifying a corpus
  • Stopwords
  • Search

Note, also, that this page contains documentation on all other aspects of Voyant; if you get stuck or confused as you experiment with Voyant, refer back to this page.

  1. Load your plain text OR files, either separately or in whatever combination you would like, into Voyant.
  • Refer to the Creating a Corpus and the Modifying a Corpus pages in the Voyant Tools Manual for instructions on how to upload more than 1 file at a time to Voyant. I find that the easiest way is generally to create a zip file that contains all of the texts you would like to upload, and just upload that.
  1. Play around and experiment. See what you can find. Once you think you’ve found something interesting, and/or something you hadn’t noticed/didn’t realize before, document it by taking a screenshot of the chart/graph that displays your results, as well as writing a note to yourself about what that screenshot shows/means. You should try to discover at least 2 patterns/concepts/ideas/etc.

  2. Write Part 1 of your blog post (~500 words):

  • You should begin by briefly describing 2 things you discovered about Only Revolutions using Voyant, providing the screenshots you took as evidence.
  • Then, answer the following questions (all three are different versions of the same question): What did Voyant allow you to see/do/know about this book that “just reading” it may not have (if anything)? In other words, what new ways of knowing about this book does this tool open up (if any)? How is “machine-assisted” close reading different from “regular” close reading (if it is)? You should limit your responses to ~500 words.

Part 2: Final Project Scholarly Paper Prospectus

The prospectus is a one-paragraph encapsulation of the major thrust of your scholarly paper as you anticipate it taking shape (~200 words). Generally speaking, it should lay out the aspect of Only Revolutions that you plan to discuss, and clearly yet succinctly articulate the central claim you plan to make about the book (i.e., your argument). Your prospectus is just your plan, however, not a contract or even a promise. I will be giving you feedback and suggestions based on the ideas you articulate in your prospectus, but it’s fine with me if the project changes.