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” Digital Humanities?

In this section Franco Moretti showed a lot of research on how literature has changed over time.  He showed the number of novels written per year with different figures for different regions and showed how the genres overlapped.  The genres were interesting because of the overlap.  One genre would start falling in popularity just as another genre was emerging.  Moretti suggested a sort of generational activity behind the replacement of genres but didn’t seem to have a full theory on the matter.  I found this to be interesting research.  He sort of went behind the scenes and discussed the corelation between the novels and outside events that might have had an impact on them, displaying the novel’s place in the larger framework of history throughout the world.  It seems that there are internal and external factors affecting the timeline of novels.  Technology, wars, trade, materials, etc. all have an effect on the novel, its content, production, and distribution.  But there are also internal forces which changed the way people read, for example reading many texts once vs. reading many over and over again in great depth.  A lot of this work seemed like presenting and interpreting data, doing historical comparisons, and making conclusions, some of which seem larly speculative.

While I find this work interesting so far, I am not sure what to consider it.  Is this digital humanities?  It does seem to be a sort of macro analysis, but it all seems to be about numbers and data in terms of the life cycle of the novel in general without any analysis of content.  Is this the digital humanities of just the study of the progression of the life of the novel?  Considering it the latter is not to discredit the work in any way.  It might just be the foundation for digital humanities work in the ‘maps’ and ‘trees’ sections.  It might already be considered digital humanities, im not sure.

What Is/Are the Digital Humanities?

According to Kirschenbaum, what is/are the Digital Humanities?

  • public form of scholarship that promotes collaboration [social undertaking (5)]
  • but also more personal and anonymous: social media encourages group participation as well as individual contributions.
  • a “network topology” (structure as opposed to a hierarchy)
  • research, teaching, and invention: intersection of computing and humanities.
  • Wikipedia! (has no limitations)
  • “term that has evolved into collaborative movement”
  • methodological outlook (4)

What’s DH doing in English Department?

  1. about text
  2. association between computers and composition
  3. convergence editorial theory and electronic editions
  4. hypertext and electronic literature
  5. cultural studies
  6. e-reading and text digitization

What’s DH doing in a theory class?

“DH is more akin to a common methodological outlook than an investment in any one specific set of texts or even technologies.” (4)

Macroanalysis: how does Jockers describe the pros and cons of the macroanalytic approach?

Pros Cons
·      Means of examining outside forces affecting writers

·      Challenging commonsense ideas

·      Can comprehend broad generalities (like genres)

·      Can explore reactions against literary and cultural trends

·      Can better question the canon

·      Does gender, ethnicity, and nationality play an impact.

·      Things we literally can’t see otherwise.

·      Not everything is digitized

·      Have to maintain interpretive insights at individual level

·      Macro: finding info, but still need imagination of scholar to make insights

·      Danger of quantification as being ends in itself. (alternative methodology)

·      Problematic to make generalizations about texts based on general sense of whole.

·      Doesn’t bring any new knowledge.

Macroanalysis and New Criticism

At first glance, “macroanalysis” as defined by Matthew L. Jockers would seem to be at direct odds with New Criticism.  Macroanalysis focuses on the widest possible breadth of reading using computer technology to amass large amounts of data, while New Criticism focuses on the close reading of an individual text in an isolated vacuum where one is to ignore the outside presence of literary history/biography.  However, where they intersect is in their search for “the facts.”  In the case of macroanalysis, these facts can only be discovered through a thorough search and compilation of all available data; in the case of New Criticism, the facts are what is present on the page with no permissible deviation into speculation as to what the author “meant.” These are not such dissimilar approaches– what is dissimilar, perhaps, is “the tools that make them possible” (31).  In other words, the New Critics hadn’t yet conceived of a technology that makes macroanalysis possible, and so  it makes perfect sense that their focus was microanalysis.  Faced with the problem of not ever really being able to answer the question, “What was the author trying to say?”, New Critics wisely decided that this question is irrelevant and unimportant.  With the addition of the digital humanities into literary studies, we can now broaden our scope of understanding in ways that the New Critics couldn’t yet imagine.  That said, we are still not trying to answer the “What did the author mean?” questions, but rather “How does this text fit into the larger social, historical, artistic framework?”  This is definitely outside the New Critic wheelhouse, but, to me anyway, a truly important aspect of literary study.

Yes, computers can help us count up how many times Jane Austen used the word “the”, but why on earth would we want to do that?  The series of bullet points on p. 28 highlight why such a trend has such groundbreaking possibilities. To be able to draw the lens back from the tiniest word in a 19th century English drawing room all the way to global implications like “whether literary trends correlate with historical events” and “whether factors such as gender, ethnicity, and nationality directly influence style and content in literature” is really exciting stuff.  In my first blog post I wrote that I was back in school to brush up on the latest in literary studies– this essay has me very excited for the kinds of projects we will be looking at/participating in during this last unit.

Digital Humanities Explaining All of Our Questions?

Digital Humanities is a term known as a computing field of studies. It is known as the study of research, teaching, and invention. DH is concerned with intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. There are different ways in which DH can be explained. DH is seen as methodological by nature and is disciplining in scope. It also involves investigation, analysis and synthesis as well as presentation of information in an electronic form. It is known as the study of media an how it affects the disciplines in which they are used and what the disciplines have to contribute to our knowledge of computing. I find that all of these terms are intertwined with one another and show how useful google and wikipedia and twitter is nowadays. The internet is an easy access to anything that you may want to find an answer to. While some theorists may say that computers are erasing the author and his/her identity the computer can also be a form of networking as well. It can be used as a source to show your work to the public and getting feedback from. I find the internet to be very useful because I not only have any answers I may want to know at my fingertips but also, find the internet to be very efficient and useful all the time. But, could the internet just be a easy way out of  physical communication? Possibly, nowadays you can take hybrid online classes and will not have to physically interact with professors or other students. I find the computer to be useful but dangerous at the same time. You cannot trust everything you read on the internet to be true or accurate. Most students are told that wikipedia can be altered or changed by anyone therefore not to trust the cite but, a digital humanities theorist may say a person’s attribution to wikipedia is only one of the many mediums that you can turn to for information. The article focused on the ways in which the internet can be useful to network and gain knowledge and information. For example you can network through twitter if you use a # and get involved in a converstation about the same topic. As the hashtag builds there is a converstation about the topic that can be useful to study and analyze from different perspectives. By using the internet we can open access to publishing, ownership,audience members, peer review as well as tenure, and, promotion.

I found an interesting video to explain on Digital Humanities and its history 🙂