Voyant Assignment

I used screenshots, even though I would have much preferred to embed the links, but I couldn’t figure out how.  The screenshots don’t really show everything I discovered, especially with “Bubbles” but I will summarize below.



Using the “Trends” tool we played with in class, I traced the usage of the words father, mother, and child in the 1818 version of Frankenstein.  (I used the asterisk* to include all endings on these words and set the graph at 12 divisions).  I was interested in this trend because much of the feminist criticism of this novel focuses on motherhood and childbirth as themes– this graph shows that the term “father” is much favored over both “mother” and “child” which may be further evidence that by creating his monster, Victor is trying to supplant the role of the mother in creation.  The biggest spike occurs towards the end of the novel which may coincide with both Victor’s reunion with his father and his fear of the monster returning to destroy him.



I used the same terms in the “Links” tool to deepen my understanding of how these words are used in the text.  The most interesting findings from this tool were the links between “child” and “dead” and the links between “mother” and “death”.  So I made another web using mother*, child* and dea* (a less than ideal choice because it includes dearest, dear, etc, but I wanted to include both “dead” and “death”) and found that while the links between both mother and child and “dea*” remained strong, there was no link between mother and child.


Finally, I played around with the “Bubbles” tool, but it really needs to be viewed in motion and does not show much as a screenshot.  You can’t really customize it to search for specific terms (at least I couldn’t figure out how to) but you can speed it up or slow it down to show how different words trend in frequency across the span of the book.  One observation I made is the word “believe” pops up in the beginning, disappears throughout the middle, and then reappears at the end.  I think this is due to the strange narration of the text.  In the beginning, both Walton and Victor are urging their listeners to “believe” the truth of this tale.  I’m wondering how/why it reappears at the end– is it the narrative frame resolving itself or does it come in when the monster is trying to make Victor “believe” his threats will come true?



Graphs, Maps and, Trees 2.0


for the knot: man=blue, dark green=father, pinkish purple=time, light green=life, purple = said


for line graph: green=father, blue=man

  1. The first image uses word bubbles to stack all the words in the text on top of each other in bubble form. I set it so all of the words in the text would be used, just out of curiosity. The image places all of the less used words in the background, highlighting the more frequently used ones in the foreground. Words such as life, father, and said are circled in darker bubbles, showing their more frequent usage.
  2. The second image is by far my favorite. I loved watched this knot tie itself together, thus showing the relationship and usage between the commonly used words. The image shows the usage of the words in relation to each other. The green line which represents the word “life” seems to be used independently of the other commonly used words. “Time” is also shown to be used very frequently, but also independently. Words like “father” and “man” often bump into each other.
  3. The third image is a simple line graph which illustrates the usage of the words “father” and “man”, two of the most common words in the text. While in the beginning of the text, it was more likely to see the word “man”, by the end it became more common to see the word “father”. Perhaps it was not more common, but there is a large peek in the usage of “man” before there is a smaller peak in the usage of the word “father”, again, toward the end of the text.

Voyant Tools and Graphs


This image shows the amount of times a word is used and which ones are the most frequently used. If we accept the hypothesis that the most used word would have something to say about the books overall theme then “man” would be that word. Since “what does it mean to be human” is one of the themes of Frankenstein I’d say that this term tool accurately supports this statement.

This line graph represents the frequency a word is used as the document goes on. As a story is told a different theme can be explored and this graph can properly represent that change. For example “father” is used less frequently as the story goes on and “life” is used more frequently as the story goes on. From this we can extrapolate that the theme of fatherhood is explored less as the story goes on while the theme of life and creation is explored more

Like the prior graph this one shows the word usage rate as well. The important difference is that within this visual representation you can see which words are used as much as each other. For example “eyes”, “miserable” and “death” are within proximity of each other. Each of these words carry heavy symbolic rate individually but when related together their meaning takes a whole new angle

Trees and information

As the chapter states in the beginning maps and graphs attempt to measure more quantitative data as opposed to trees more qualitative data. And yet maps can still be skewed by a cartographer’s bias in gauging two locations distance on the visual representation of the map. Graphs usually are the most objective of the three since they rely on scales and pure numbers and mathematics then the other two. When it comes to trees though how is the decision made of which branch is related to which one more? When it comes to the highly subjective nature of interpreting literature the answer gets muddier.

Franco Moretti mentions this in his trees chapter of “Graphs, Maps and Trees” with his mention of “objective” and “subjective” trees. And I see how the distinction could be made as I suppose you could make associations between something like genres with cataloguing keywords that are often used within a genre. But that method could be hardly called objective since the criterion for such an evaluation would almost certainly have to be arbitrary. I suppose given the nature of genres as largely arbitrary and literature’s nature as subjective, measuring more metaphysical things as genres will always be to some extent approximations rather than cold hard objective statements.

I wonder if such a thing as a completely objective tree could exist? A objective graph and for the most a part a fairly subjective map could used using mathematics. I think the distinction lies within that element. For the most part as far as my knowledge extends, most trees do not make use of formulas and data and the ones that do don’t really have hard criterions to make evaluations with. Though I’m sure some do, the ones that I have seen such as the ones in Franco Moretti’s “Graphs, Maps and Trees” don’t really let the reader in on their methodology either. Of course I am not implying that trees are a inherently inferior way of categorizing informatino just that the deficiencies built into the tree method are interesting to think about

Voyant Assignment

This is the assignment for 11/29, since we will not meet that day.

The goal: familiarize yourself with Voyant, and use at least three of the tools either to answer a specific question or to generate new knowledge about the text.

The assignment: use Voyant to explore one of these two versions of Frankenstein (or: both, if you’re feeling inspired): Frankenstein1818.txt or Frankenstein1831.txt and produce three images with a brief 3–4 sentence description of what new insights the images can tell us about the novel. Post this on the course website. This should take you about an hour and a half. (if you have trouble downloading the texts, you can copy-and-paste here 1818 or here 1831.)

First, read the “Getting Started” and “Tools Index” pages here (note: Voyant was recently upgraded, so some of the tools may not work properly):

Getting Started

Tools Index

Second, use at least three of the tools at https://voyant-tools.org/ to visualize Frankenstein. I would advise you “export” the tool into a new URL and new window so that it can be examined full-screen. This is basically just playing around and exploring, with the aim of familiarizing yourself with the program. Experiment with searching for words, turning “stop words” on and off, and screwing around.

Third, take a screenshot of three visualizations you like best (or embed them like I did above if you can figure out how), upload them to the course website, and write a 3–4 sentence description for how each image tells us something new about Frankenstein or answers a specific research question.


The juxtaposition of graphs to maps in general, makes a lot of sense. Graphs and maps are both 2D or 3D designs which use images to communicate some sort of data or information. “Trees”, the third part of Moretti’s book, seem oddly out of place here. Trees are living, breathing organisms, born from seeds and earth, not ink and parchment. If anything, paper comes from trees, so shouldn’t “Trees” at least come first in the list? (post structuralism reading of the title of the book). This chapter begins to suggest that the purpose of trees is to show growth – a relationship between history and form – two ideas which in the past have been mutually exclusive. “If language evolves by diverging, why not literature too?” This creates a very tree-like imagery, the branches going off in all different directions, taking language to various places. But these diagrams don’t look much like trees. They seem to be charts which show associations over time, increases and decreases. What’s so different about trees and graphs? Are they simply meant to show growth, evolution? I think this third aspect is the most abstract so far. I’m hoping that going over it will clear things up for me.


“…branches of a morphological tree capture with such intuitive force. ‘A tree can be viewed as a simplified description of a matrix of distances’…And if language evolves by diverging why not literature too?” (Moretti 70). We can relate this to Moretti’s past chapters on Graphs and Maps and how genres have grown and changed throughout the years. I wouldn’t use the word matured, every generation has a preference, mainly because of the social happenings going on during that time period.

So what information can trees present to the reader? Genres within literature begin to divide even further from their original classification when using a tree diagram. Showing how different written texts can become separated and easily broken down for a clear view. When grouping together similarities are shown between genres that we wouldn’t normally assume belong together. Options have opened and our interpretations have the power to expand.

Shannen Coleman