I uploaded the State of the Union addresses from 1951-2000 into Antconc for this lab.
The frequency of “the future” was 317.
When I searched for clusters of words containing “future”, the top 3 most frequent bigrams on the left are “future of” (22 times), “future is” (11 times), and “future generations” (10 times). On the right, the most frequent are “the future” (144 times), “our future” (35 times), and “for future” (14 times).
The Future appears in Eisenhower’s 1955 address, Kennedy’s 1961 address, and Carter’s 1981 address.
In Truman’s 1953 address, he uses “the future” repeatedly to reference scientific and technological developments. During Truman’s presidency, he was faced with difficult decisions regarding the close of World War II, and in his State of the Union address it is clear how much emphasis was being put on scientific exploration. Because the use of the atomic bombs was so revolutionary, it makes sense for Truman to put the focus of his address on concerns for the future of humanity and the way that these new developments will affect future generations and future warfare.
Three words that are more expected to see in the State of the union are people, congress, and America. One word that is more unexpected is Soviet.
The State of the Union addresses are interesting tools to study, especially in a medium like Antconc. One thing that is gained through this research is an appreciation for the hot topics of the time period. For instance, nowadays, if President Obama decided to talk about the Soviet Union in a speech or discuss how revolutionary our militant technological explorations are, it would seem a little crazy, since those topics are either outdated or irrelevant in today’s America. However, we don’t usually think about things like this unless we are presented with them like I was in this lab. Obviously, after WWII it makes sense that the primary concerns were atomic weaponry and the beginnings of the Cold War, yet I never considered that until I saw how prevalent those words were in the speeches.
While useful for certain investigations, Antconc is not without challenges. First, the interface can be confusing to beginners and the device has some limitations for those who are technologically challenged. For literary studies, Antconc presents the challenge of confronting importance. What type of literature benefits the most from this type of research? While it offers a nice look into context of the piece in regards to the States of the Union, I can’t help but wonder how relevant this technology would be for a standard and traditional prose novel. If I put The Great Gatsby into Antconc, is there anything more that the system could tell me about the words and the time period that I couldn’t already glean from a standard reading? This is something that I am skeptical about. However, Antconc could be helpful for more innovative works like Only Revolutions. Since that piece of literature is so difficult and contains so many various nuances that are mined solely from the words themselves, Antconc could be extremely beneficial to any research conducted with that work.
Ultimately, I found Antconc to be helpful in studying speeches and historical addresses, but I think that the program itself is too labor intensive and tedious for me to be continually used as an effective research tool.