The Little Review

Voyant as a search tool

While playing with Voyant was fun, I did not find it particularly helpful in reading the Little Review corpus as a whole. Like Hope mentioned, the word cloud is a really nice feature, one that helps the reader get a sense of the overarching topics that pervade the corpus. Beyond that, though, I didn’t feel like the features gave me much insight as to the overall nature of the content of the magazine (although, this could certainly be a problem with the user and not the program).

Though maybe not the best for producing an overarching picture of a massive body of work, Voyant is really good for revealing which issues of the Little Review contain pieces on certain topics. Out of curiosity, I plugged “Ireland” into the word search. This produced two main peaks, one from the June/July 1916 issue, and one in the January 1920 issue. It turns out that the June/July 1916 issue contains an article titled “The Irish Revolutionists” by Irish poet Padraic Colum. In this article, Colum calls attention to the execution of three Irish poets who were also leaders of the Easter Rising. Colum equates their deaths to the death of WWI poet Rupert Brooke. The difference is in the fact that the British executed the Irish poets, while they mourn the loss of the poetry that Brooke would have produced. The January 1920 issue contains Episode XII of Ulysses, the episode that highlights an Irish nationalist in a pub. Unsurprisingly, the word Ireland comes up quite a bit in this issue.

Overall, my experience with Voyant has led me to believe that it is more useful in searching for specific items in a text than in painting an overall picture of the text.

Voyant as a searching tool

While playing with Voyant was fun, I did not find it particularly helpful in reading the Little Review corpus as a whole. Like Hope mentioned, the word cloud is a really nice feature, one that helps the reader get a sense of the overarching topics that pervade the corpus. Beyond that, though, I didn’t feel like the features gave me much insight as to the overall nature of the content of the magazine (although, this could certainly be a problem with the user and not the program).

Using Voyant

Using Voyeur Tools to read The Little Review was an interesting experience. As others have commented, the word trend search and graph was a fun tool, but as far as helping one read The Little Review it is only a jumping off point. It provides interesting data sets, but without going back to the text of the magazine(s) one may easily get a false sense of the key terms and key trends in the magazine. I liked that one of the provided Voyant tools allows one to view a given word in context. I used the word in context tool to look at the most frequently used key word "life." Looking through the given text of the first magazine, I was able to see that "life" and specifically life as seen through art,literature, poetry, and music truly was a key theme in the magazine, particularly the first issue. Of course this was the intent of the editors of the magazine.
 
in playing around Voyant more, one of my favorite aspects of Voyant became the Corpus Reader and the ability to hover over a word and see its usage frequency and see it highlighted throughout the rest of the text. I realized that Voyant is undoubtedly a helpful tool for close examining of a text, but that it requires the reader or researcher to be an active participant and manipulator of the tools. I came to realize that using a combination of the tools was the best means of gaining insight into The Little Review and patterns within the magazine.

Visualization Tools: Voyant

Using Voyant felt like using a more specific Google Ngrams. That's not a bad thing--or a good thing, at that, necessarily. It all depends on what one is trying to use the tool for. I enjoyed comparing word fequences in The Little Review, but I didn't feel as though I was gleaning much (if any) meaningful information, simply because I'm well aware of all the ways word frequency data can be skewed.

One thing I really liked about Voyant was the ease with which I could access the original text and the spots in which the words I searched for showed up. That helped to provide context that I am not accustomed to seeing with Ngrams. But in terms of analytical tools, I still prefer Gephi. But maybe that's still because of how impressed I was with Gephi's programming and manner of information visualization. (Our previous Manovich reading was rather enlightening on the matter of why Gephi might more naturally appeal to me than Voyant.)

Visualizing The Little Review

Using the Voyeur corpus to close read The Little Review was a great way to narrow down topics and find the issues that discussed specific key words and topics. As for close reading, the Voyeur tools help to narrow down what you're looking at.  Using the corpus to modify the key words shows you the issues of the magazine that are relevent, to which you can go into the archive and find the articles that most relate to what you're looking for.  I also enjoyed typing in words that were in opposition to each other, such as Democrat and Republican, and going back into the archive to see what kinds of articles were in the issues that had a high number of each of the categories, as well as seeing the timeline of when those words were more prevalent.  Democrat and Republican were both more prevalent in the issues leading up to elections, and the two words were used in different numbers during the war vs before the war. 

One of the interesting things was looking at the graph of all the issues, seeing what words were more prevalent in what issues of the magazine.  For instance, the word "life" was super prevalent in volume one and was a word that the entire magazine was supposed to revolve around, yet the use of the word "life" dropped off after the first few issues.  I also used the word search to search for more fun words, such as ketchup, mustard and mayo, princess, puppy, etc.  For the most part, my fun words had very little roles in The Little Review.

 

Voyeur Tools

Ì enjoyed Voyeur Tools but I found some things wanting in it. By far, my favorite feature was the word cloud; picking out information with it was straightforward and reminded me of Moretti's graphs in the distant reading piece. While the word trends tool was fun to play around with, I found myself increasingly frustrated with it. Instead of seeing the whole corpus represented and choosing a focus, searching the word trends had me wracking my brain to come up with combinations that would be fruitful or interesting. I did find an interesting spike in the use of the word "woman" in The Little Review's 11th issue (1915-02). When I went through the issue in the archive, I found a script with a character simply named "The Woman;" her name definitely contributed to the spike in iterations.

Voyeur Tools has already done a lot of the data reduction for the user, seemingly to the point of encouraging the user to do more additive functions ("oh, let's put 'violin' in contrast with 'music' and see how the relative graphs change"). It seems to me that it's far easier to miss out on interesting or important correlations with selective or additive functions such as this. Trying to guess at things (especially in using the various search bars) made reading The Little Review harder for me.

 

Voyeur Tools

I have to say, I think the Voyeur Tools is my favorite program that we have looked at in class thus far. I really like the look of the visual representations, and I really appreciate that there are multiple visual representation options. My favorite part, however, is that the program offers the actual statistical data that the visual represents. Particularly in the word trends widget, I like that the frequency of the word is actually shown, and the issue itself is accessible.

For example, I looked up the words art and new. In word trends, I found that art is talked about much more frequently than things being new. This struck me because my last interaction with art was the Prologue to Dorian Grey, which talks about the importance of making things new via art. I understood this idea to be central to the modernist movement. In the word trends, however, I found that the issue with the most uses of the word art is the issue with the fewest uses of the word new. Just from this data I began to think that their definition or explanation of art would be quite different than Oscar Wilde's, and after I looked at the issue for myself, I found that I was right: their definition of art was quite different. I thought that it was fascinating that I was able to see this in nothing more than squiggly lines of a page!

The Little Review through Voyant Tools

Voyant Tools made it easier to “read” The Little Review in the sense that you can know the overarching theme of the magazine or an issue in specific without having to actually read every piece of writing in it. The word cloud was really helpful in finding out the general theme(s). The graphs of search words, though, was more helpful if you wanted to know how prevalent a certain word was, and since you could relate it to a certain issue where it was either remarkably low or high, it helped put it into historical perspective too. That was more interesting to me because then you could see the social effects of big events, like how we talked about the rise of censorship during the war and how they didn’t even use the word war. That’s not something that would be immediately recognizable, unless perhaps you were specifically looking for it, just by reading every page of the journal.

One thing I found when going back to read the journal after looking at the graph of words that I’d searched is that it wasn’t always truly representative of the issue. Like in class, when Brooke searched Democrat and Republican and it showed one issue that had a lot of mentions of Democrat, but it turned out to just be a piece entitled The Democrat, which made liberal use of the word. If you were to just look at the graph without going back to the actual journal, you could come away with a skewed vision of what the journal represented. Other times, it was completely accurate, and it turned out to be something related to the current events of the time, which you wouldn’t have been able to see without comparing it to the issues published in later years. 

 

Gephi

Though I haven't been able to do more exploring on Gephi since I don't have my own laptop, during the time we spent on it in class I was able to do a fair amount of exploring. It was interesting to see a visual representation of the themes in The Little Review  that we had discussed in class last week.  The visual map and nodes confirmed  that death was a key theme, if not the key theme of the magazine. Poetry and T.S. Eliot, not surprisingly,  in turn seemed to have a strong connection with the theme of death.  I also found it helpful to zero in on the connecting lines and their thickness or thinness. With little effort Gephi helped me see themes and connections that were strong in the magazine and also allowed me to see the smaller or more subtle connections and themes. I loved that Gephi provides this way of examining a large amount of text in the same screen view and offers a springboard for further study. 

Thoughts on Gephi

While I still don't fully understand the program and probably never will, Gephi was really fun to play around with, and I actually found it easier to understand than some of the websites we've visited. I won't lie, though. At first I thought the placement of the nodes was completely random and had no idea what was going on. It was only when I experimented with coloring the nodes that I realized how they were related to one another. The layout and placement were extremely intricate, but I found that the more you played around with colors and themes, the easier it became to read. Obviously more general nodes like "poetry" were cluttered and highly populated while author's names were less connected. It surprised me that "death" was the most populated overall.

Once you understand how Gephi fuctions and how to best understand the correlation between the nodes, the program is a very helpful and interesting tool. I enjoyed using it.

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