Voyant Tools

I liked being able to try, and use the two different text visualization tools.  Firstly, I used the bubble tool. For the bubble tool I choose to go with Langston Hughes Poem “A Raisin in the Sun”. I was pleasantly surprised especially because I had no idea what I was expecting. The bubble tool focused on the frequency, and repetition of words. It automatically counted how many words were in the text, and how often those words were used, and their frequency in relation to the text. The more a word is used the higher frequency on the chart. Each document appears as a horizontal line, and each selected word is bubble size. I was able to also switch the display of the text on the screen where all the words can be linked together with arrows, as well as bubbles. Secondly, I used the knots tool. The knots tool was completely different, in how little was actually displayed in comparison to the bubble tool. The knot has few selected terms from the poem on the top outlined in different colors to distinguish each term. Each line shows a   a selected term over the length of the corpus. The lines that overlap show the connection between the terms. I enjoyed using both tools because I have never had any knowledge of corpus series and voyant tools. It was an extremely rewarding and fascinating experience.

Digital Humanities in Practice

I found the tools we used in class to be very intriguing. They gave an in depth and interactive experience when analyzing poetry and text. The first tool I used was called Bubbles, which I used to analyze Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.” What I found interesting about this tool was that it gave you the frequency in which words showed up throughout a body of work. This can give added insight into the theme and the subject of the work. It can also reveal the inner workings of the writer’s message to the reader. The most common words were “live” and “love,” which each showed up three times throughout the poem. I think this really relates back to the message of the piece, that the shepherd’s passion is something to be desired by his love. With the terms “live” and “love,” the Shepherd is offering his love stability and a future. “Come,” “sing,” “shepherds,” and “pleasures” were words with similar instances of increased frequency. “Shepherds,” “sing,” and “pleasures” create an idyllic atmosphere for the poem while “come” relays the Shepherd beckoning to his love. He is calling them to come to him in hopes of a willing response, and an receptiveness to his love. These understandings may not have been otherwise garnered if I had not used this digital tool.

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Unfortunately, some of the other tools were a little harder to use. I tried to enter William Blake’s “London” into the Corpus tool, but it ended up just redirecting to CirrusCirrus also presents word frequency, but with a graphic representation and a word cloud of sorts, with words in different colors and sizes. There was also a summary of the document, including the total number of words and unique word forms. Cirrus‘s format was a little clearer than Bubbles’s, but not quite as fun. Bubbles had an engaging little tool where you could move the word bubbles throughout one another. It was very sensory appealing to sight, and interactive digital stimulation. Meanwhile, Cirrus’s graphs turned me off a bit. The most frequent word used in Blake’s “London” was “cry.” This was fitting, considering the tone of anguish to the piece. If I had not read any of “London,” but just used this tool, I would have a clear understanding of the tone. Meanwhile, “charter’d,” “infants,” “hear,” and “marks” were also used frequently. This shows the importance of symbolism and analogy to this poem. “Infants” are used to convey a message of youth and violated innocence. “Hear” and “marks” give sensory details and display a need to analyze deeper meanings in the poem. As a little sidetone, “charter’d” shows the time period of the piece and adds to the atmosphere, tone, and understanding of the theme.

All in all these tools were invaluable and I plan to use them in my personal discoveries in the future.

Voyant Analysis of Antigone – Mark Robbins

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By utilizing the Bubbles tool via Voyant to analyze “Antigone” some interesting phenomena occurs. The bubbles grow to reflect the occurrence of words as the play progresses. Antigone begins as the largest bubble, though, over the course of the play, Creon’s bubble surpasses hers. This tool helps to analyze the arch of the play itself: it begins by focusing on Antigone and her rebellion against authority and allegiance to her family and the gods and transitions toward Creon’s rebellion against the gods and allegiance toward earthly authority. This dichotomy within the program highlights the themes of the play. By separating them in the program, one is more easily able to distinguish the difference of opinion between Antigone and Creon, as well as the different questions that are inherent to each character: the hierarchy of loyalty. Interestingly, gods and man are two of the larger bubbles, representing, again, the theme of the play: To which, god or man, is one more highly obligated to obey?

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The TermsRadio tool allows one to view the prevalence of terms used throughout a piece all at once. The graph depicted shows the prevalence of terms, particularly characters, used throughout the play. Interestingly, this graph reflects, again, the difference between Antigone and Creon. As Antigone’s line arcs downward, Creon’s moves up. Connecting these two characters is Haemon, whose course is more of an inverted parabola, highlighting not only his connection to both their story arcs but also his intimate relationship to both characters. By using this tool, one is able to visualize the arcs of both Antigone and Creon and serves to highlight Haemon as the link between them.

 

Text tools and Sonny’s Blues

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Above is the word cloud for the full text of Sonny’s Blues.

Sonny: 105 Said: 99  Know: 66  Just: 58  Time: 55  Like: 48  Got: 42                             want: 39  brother: 36….Here is the top 9 words that appear the most. As one may note, the vocabulary in this story is not advanced or complex. This means that many people can read this profound short story without getting a headache or becoming confused.

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This next text tool I use is the linking tool. This tool links words together to show the relationship in the number of times each word was used beside or in the same sentence as another word. As one may note, most of the top words from the first chart are seen in this chart, and they link to the name Sonny.

When are text tools useful: I don’t think that text tools were that useful for Baldwin’s short story because it didn’t provide me with any substantial semantic meaning. The problem with text tools is that one might not being able to access a full text on the web, especially a book. Other than that I often use voyant for scholarly articles and long pieces of literature. I find that voyant text tools are most useful when you use them on a piece you have not read already. I often utilize voyant for these purposes because it can provide a reader with an understanding of a piece of literature without them reading it. Text tools save a lot of time…thank God for the digital humanities.

Antigone and Voyant – Paloma

I chose to analyze Antigone to see if I could come to any new conclusions regarding the characters of Antigone and the values of ancient Greek culture. I decided to look at the work as a whole rather than a specific section because I wanted to gain insight into the relationships of Antigone from the beginning to the end of the play.

Cirrus counts the amount of times a word appears in a work. The first thing I discovered is that the word man is used 35 more times than the words woman is. This could suggest that men were valued higher than woman in the social hierarchy. Another insight into ancient Greek culture stems from the use of the words king, people, and city. The word king is used 16 times more than the words people and city combined. With context from the play, this could imply that the words of the king are more important than the words of the people and the city. Another thing suggested from Cirrus is that family is very important to ancient Greek culture.

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I also used links to analyze Antigone. Links creates connections between different words. Creon was linked to king, man, and say. This could indicate that as a character Creon values his power as a king, his position as a man, and his word as law. Antigone was liked to Creon, brother, Ismene, and enter. This shows that Antigone strongly values her relationships within her family. The word man was linked with Creon, knows, bring, and sentry.

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God in the Mist and the midst – Lizotte

Lorraine Hansberry masterfully uses repetition in the scene in which Mama Younger slaps Beneatha for taking the Lord’s name in vain. This repetition is visually evident when using the Voyant Corpus tools, Cirrus and Contexts. God is the word most used in this scene. God is very important to Mama and her religious beliefs infuse and inform the play. God is also in the middle of the argument between Beneatha and Mama, and God shows in the middle of things below.

The first tool I chose was the Cirrus chart. I chose all lines from the slap scene, from where Beneatha states, “I’m going to be a doctor” to where she tells Mama, “Yes, Ma’am.” After inputting this text into the prompt box, I clicked on the “Reveal” button. This delivers a corpus, or summary of different charts that depict the text in different ways. From the summary screen, one of the charts is a word cloud, or cirrus chart. The frequency of the words from the slap scene look like this:

Cirrus of Slap Scene
Cirrus of Slap Scene

In a Cirrus chart, the larger words are the ones used most often. This cloud shows that the most commonly used word in the slap scene is the word, “God.” It is interesting that in this Cirrus chart, the word “God” is not capitalized, but in the play’s text it is. I think that another interesting thing is that one of the other most frequently used words is “I’m,” which to me implies a selfishness on the person using it “I’m (this),” “I’m (that)” It seems that “I’m” is at odds with the word “God.” On the one hand, the Christian God is love for everyone who wants it; it is unselfish and giving. “I’m” is all about the person making the statement and seems selfish and at odds with love. It’s also interesting that the two words are touching each other. It makes me think about people, many Americans, who seem to say, “I’m God,” maybe not in their speech, but in their actions or assumptions. I have done this. I often take for granted all the wonderful blessings that God has bestowed on me, which I could lose at any moment: a house that provides me shelter, a car that transports me from place to place, fresh water that magically pours from my faucet. I have thought that these were mine because I earned them, and that they would be mine forever. Then, I think about people in war zones. One day, they have everything that I do. The next it is blown to pieces. It makes me praise and thank God every day for what I have. And it makes me try to humble the “I’m” in myself.

The next tool I used was Context. I chose the word God. This tool shows the placement of the chosen word in comparison with the rest of the sentence.

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This is an interesting way of looking at what comes before or after the chosen word. In this selection, isn’t it interesting that God is in the middle of everything?

An article from the NY Times by Gertrude Samuels- Johnny Vaccaro

In, From Even More Crucial Than in the South, Gertrude Samuels explores the differences between Southern and Northern segregation, specifically location segregation. Samuels explains that in the South, white and black families lived side by side for years, but in the North, the segregation of white and black families was more evident. He particularly writes about Chicago’s South Side, where the majority of the Negro population lived. Samuels notes that when black families tried to move into white communities, the communities rejected the Negros’ plans to move in. Moreover, not only did White communities not want Negro families to move in, but they took violent actions like throwing rocks at their new houses to prevent Negroes from moving. Samuels notes that Whites did not want Negroes to move into their communities largely because “their presence will reduce property values.” The Negroes knew that this was a belief for Whites, and this belief was the reason they didn’t want Negro families to mix with there’s; Negros replied to this value by stating, “In the North, the whites say, ‘I don’t care how high you get, but don’t get too close.” While reading, A Raisin in the Sun, I did not focus on the cultural and historical contexts as much as I should of, but this article from the New York Times provided me with the proper historical background to interpret and better understand A Raisin in the Sun. If I were to guess, I would of said that the living arrangements in the South were more segregated than the living arrangements in the North, but clearly it was the other way around. This historical information gave me a better insight in understanding the act of moving houses the family takes in the play. When Mama is telling her family that she bought a new house they seem very excited, but the tone instantly changes when she tells them what town the new house is in. Suddenly, the excitement and happiness of the people in the room shift to a vibe of anxiety and worrisome. Moving into a white community was a power move for the family; it would drastically alter the family’s socialization. In fact, the family would have to re-socialize, and their new surroundings would be a culture shock. The family’s in-group is the urban Negro community, but by switching locations, the family is moving away from their in-group and into their out-group. I can totally see why the family was so tense and worried when moving houses because the community that they were moving into did not want them to reside there. Therefore, the physical act of moving houses was a huge step for the family as a whole. To make a decision and switch locations as a unit, the family is attempts to face the problem of their current time period: whites and blacks physically segregated in their living arrangements. By moving locations, the family nonverbally speaks out about how they want change in a time of racial and social discrimination.

“Raisin in the Sun” and “From Twelve Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States” – Mark Robbins

The excerpt from Richard Wright’s piece gives a great degree of insight into the plight of the Younger family. By discussing the nature of the American Dream being largely inaccessible to African Americans via analyzing the nature and reasoning of segregated ghettos in the urban North, one is able to better understand the plight of the Younger family.

The Younger family, in the play, lives in a minuscule, cramped, and segregated apartment complex. In his piece, Wright describes, in great detail, the “prison” that these housing situations truly are as well as the “bedlam” that ensues from living in such proximity and abject poverty (Wright 1539). Each character in the play, due to this “bedlam” and feeling of confinement, behave predictably given these circumstances. Walter Lee feels restrained, and, in many ways, like he is losing it being cooped up in these deplorable living conditions. In many instances, the lack of physically space causes controversy and heightens tempers, such as Walter Lee’s fury of his son having to sleep on a couch due to lack of space.

As Wright points out, there was a highly pervasive, and sadly, in some areas this mentality still lingers, that property values diminish when African Americans are allowed to own property in predominately white neighborhoods. Wright laments, saying, “We do not understand why this should be so. We are poor; but they were once poor, too” (Wright 1538). This belief is what inspires Lindner to offer to buy their property, for fear that their owning of the house would diminish the value of the white households in the area. From a purely economic standpoint, this belief system, while morally repugnant, is one that is legitimate. Property value affects resale value of the same property, it can be quite difficult to gain loans with one’s home as collateral if the value of the property is low, since school funding is generated from property taxes then, naturally, the white neighbors would fear that a decrease in property value would necessarily decrease school funding which in turn limits opportunities to their children… the list goes on and on. This fear is what caused the “White Flight” of white Americans from urban environments to the suburbs, which, in turn created de facto segregation: white neighborhoods had higher property value because they were white and the urban centers had lowered property value both due to the racist belief African Americans naturally decreased said value and the lack of white persons “raising” the property value. As a result, these segregated centers were exploited by white owners: the “rat-trap” in which the Youngers live, while being low in value, has far higher rent. Not only are the Youngers and their neighbors being swindled, the high rent imposes a barrier to moving to a better life, such as the suburbs. They are trapped in this horrid system, forced to live in expensive housing despite low property value and unable to save money in order to better their situation.

Understanding the economics of the Younger’s situation helps to illuminate the greater specter of evils occurring in the country at the time, and, sadly today. This context gives framework to their plight, making it believable and relatable: it is not an isolated event but an endemic and pervasive problem, this understanding transforms the Youngers from an isolated scenario to merely a window with which to empathize with others who suffer in the same way.