Text-mining Poetry

The main feedback that I got was to try a more nuanced approach to the corpus in searching out terms that each magazine uses in their respective discussions regarding nature and the environment.  As I am more familiar with the corpus of Poetry, I have focused on revising my large corpus analysis to look more in depth into the discussion of nature within that magazine.  More specifically, I wanted to take a closer look at how the magazine correlates nature with the individual in comparison to how it is treated in regards to region.  My larger project for this course focuses on an examination of the means through which Harriet Monroe employs Poetry as a vehicle for the espousal of a fundamentally American modernism that has its locus in the Southwest and its origin in the Native American tribes residing there.  With that in mind, I created the following word trend graph of the Poetry corpus:

The most surprising trend here is the lack of attention given to geography in relation to individual.  While "nature" remains a fairly consistent presence throughout, both "Indian" and "primitive" ebb and flow which seems to speak to moments of more intense focus.  However, "southwest" is basically absent from the entire corpus.  This focus on the individual over location could be emblematic of the disparity between poets' geographic location and the content of their work that came up in the questions after my presentation today.  The focus on depicting those that reside in the Southwest rather than the physical location could be representative of the desire to depict the existence that the contributors to Poetry wish to depict but not live.

Irony and Anarchy in TLR

The decline of terms regarding anarchism is due to Margaret Anderson's determination to no longer "preach" the tenets of anarchy.  She confesses that she was naive to think anarchism could actually happen and iniate social changes.  This confession sounds defeated, but I don't think she loses her interest in anarchism.  

Anderson's sense of anarchism superficially change to something more similar to individualism.  For her, anarchy was always about individual enlightenment and improvement.  She never lost sight of the need for this and often explains this same concept whenever she talks about being bored with conventionalities.  Her early attachment to anarchy was due to anarchy's close relationship to individuality and non-conformity.  She later develops her own understanding of individuality that continues the same concept that first drew her to anarchism.  Emma Goldman, a famous anarchist, first attracted Anderson to anarchism and their relationship eventually fell apart as Anderson became more focused on "Art," and more specifically form.  

This article, which actually predates the first link, claims that anarchism and art are connected by the same motivating principles.  Although she later admits that anarchism cannot instigate change, it seems that she has just transfered her energies from propagandizing anarchism to focusing on the aesthetic form that anarchy should take: irony.  This explains the n-gram of The Little Review that visualizes the decline of anarchy-terms and the rise, or at least spikes, in the usage of irony.

The Words Trend graph provides an easy way to locate the uses of irony that occur in these two spikes.  I would have to read these volumes to find their specific usage and context, but that's much easier than reading through the entire run start to finish.  I had read most of The Little Review on the MJP for another class and chose these terms to see how accurately they matched my own thesis.  I marked TLR 4.4 as the last issue to really approach anarchy directly and Voyant tools seems to agree.  

I will need to read these volumes that mention irony more than the others to get a better sense of how TLR envisioned the political registers of this aesthetic.    

Anarchy and Irony in TLR

I've been working on a project in which I'm hoping to show how Margaret Anderson used irony as an aesthetic register of her anarchism.  I am trying to show that she contributed significantly to the type of difficult irony in modernism, the kind that cannot be resolved without sacrificing another equally plausible perspective.  One example of this difficult irony is the conclusion of The Waste Land​, where nobody is really sure if it rains or not.  I used Voyant tools to show me what it could find when I searched the terms "anarchism, anarchy, anarchist, irony, and ironic."  


This "Word Trends" graph shows that anarchism faded from the magazine's interests just as irony began to spike.  The spike in "irony" wasn't sustained, though.  There are a few possibilities for this, I think.  Irony doesn't explicitly call itself out, which means it would evade Voyant tools's word search.  So, it's possible that irony had a constant presence throughout TLR's run.  The spike, however, suggests that some writers were talking about it explicitly perhaps as a form.  I think the drop in anarchy-terms and the two spikes in irony-terms shows the magazine shifting its interest from explicit politics to form, an implicitly anarchic form.  


This visual collator graph shows that "ironic" only connects to "anarchist" through "tale."  This isn't necessarily a strong bond, but it does show at least some connection between anarchy, irony, and (fictional) writing.  Also, some of the clusters reveal more connections.  Irony connects to style, ironic connects to experiment, anarchists connects to rhetoric, and anarchism connects to art. Anarchy links with laughter, which might relate to Wyndham Lewis's concept of "corrosive laughter."  I think this quick analysis of TLR begins to develop some of the links between anarchy and irony.

Text Mining Poetry & Others

For this lab, I wanted to text mine Poetry and Others as a means through which to try and account for the exodus of poets from the former to the latter during and immediately after World War I.  Given my interest (both for the final project and broader research) in the relation between literature and the environment, I thought it would be interesting to see how these two magazines dealt with nature.  The skin that I built used Word Trends, Collocates, Keywords in Context, and Collocate Clusters (link to Poetry skin; link to Others skin).  These widgets, because they allow for searching of an individual term and gives the statistics of that word’s occurrences, seemed to be the best options for this sort of analysis.

Word trend graph of "nature" in Others corpus

The Word Trend widget for Others exemplifies the relative absence of “nature” from that magazine’s corpus.  This is further clarified in looking at the Collocates widget, that shows only ninety-six occurrences of the term in comparison to 1,935 in Poetry.  While this may be due to the (the MJP contains only five volumes of Others in comparison to the twenty-one volumes of Poetry), there seems to be something more here when looking at the Collocate Clusters widget (below).

Collocate cluster of "nature" in Others corpus

Collocate cluster of "nature" in Poetry corpus

In Others, “nature” is clustered most predominantly with “eyes,” possibly hinting at a connection to perception.  Poetry, on the other hand, groups “nature” closely to “artist,” “source,” and “poetry.”  While this is by no means a definitive study of the treatment of nature in these two magazines, this does (provisionally) seem to point towards a connection between a view of nature as source of poetry as passé and movement from Poetry to Others.

The Little Review, Others, and Discourse on Censorship

 Since my final project deals with censorship in The Little Review, and since the particular issue I am working with contains discourse on censorship and free speech, I thought that it might be interesting to graph a series of terms about the subjects in order to see whether I might be able to locate a discourse on censorship or free speech elsewhere within the corpus of The Little Review. I decided to graph these terms in one of the magazines related to The Little Review, as well. The Egoist's corpus would not load with Voyant Tools, unfortunately, so I graphed the terms as they appear -- or rather, as they do not appear -- in Others.

I developed matching custom Voyant Tools skins for each magazine, using Cirrus, Keywords in Context, Summary, Bubbles, and Word Trends as my widgets. I also attempted to graph the same series of terms in both magazines: censor, censors, censored, censorship, obscene, obscenity, obscenities, postmaster, postal service, free speech, espionage, objections, unmailable. 

Below is my Word Trends graph for all of these terms in The Little Review:

As it should be clear, the Word Trends widget did not recognize all of the terms I input as occurring within the corpus of The Little Review. Strangely, however, I am certain that some of these words do occur at least once within the entire corpus. 

Collapsing the terms into one graph, however, revealed a more promising pattern by allowing me to see where the terms occur together:

Some of the trends in the graphs I developed for The Little Review only flagged issues of the magazine that I have already examined; however, using the Word Trends widget with collapsed terms did allow me to find one issue (Volume 3, Issue 5 -- the spike in the graph) that I have yet to look at. 

The results I found using the same skin and terms for Others were less interesting, by far. The widgets only recognize the keywords "obscene" and "obscenity" as occurring within the corpus. Although it is not particularly interesting, my Word Trends graph for Others is embedded below for the sake of consistency: 


Man, Woman, Men, Women: Comparing Mentions of Gender in The Freewoman and The Crisis

Both The Freewoman and The Crisis offer intriguing divergences from the common words of other magazines, particularly in regards to their usage of gendered language, such as the words "man," "men," "women," and "woman."

Here are my customized skins for the two magazines:

The Freewoman

The Crisis

Previous texts we have examined have listed "man" as one of the top words within the texts. The Crisis is no exception, with "men" and "man" coming in at 8th and 9th most recurring, respectively.

The Crisis



The number one word of The Freewoman, however, is "women."

The Freewoman



It is expected that a feminist publication would refer to women. More intriguing, however, is the fact that the most common is the plural, "women," and not the singular, "woman," in parallel with the "man" of other texts. This suggests a focus on women as a group, rather than some usage as a referent to an ideal or a monolithic "woman." This is similar to The Crisis, in which "men" squeaks by "man" in popularity, by a margin of about 1000 appearances.

The Crisis

A comparison of the word trends of the two publications illustrates these phenomena:

The Crisis

The Freewoman

The above graph of The Freewoman is actually a graph of the five most common words within the publication. Below is the graph of the five most common words of The Crisis, in which none of the four words in question make an appearance.

The Crisis

So, perhaps not the most revelatory discovery of the ages: that a feminist magazine talks about women a lot. But I did find interesting the ways in which both magazines speak of the collective more than the whole (except for the case of men in The Freewoman, intriguingly), emphasizing genders as a group more than a monolith or an ideal.

MJP Collocates

Here is a skin for examining word collocates in the MJP corpus. The Summary widget provides overall corpus statistics, while the Collocates widget allows you to search a term and see its collocates to varying degrees of distance. The Bubbles graph in the center represents visually the vocabulary connections within the corpus.

You can play with the Collocate widget here:

The Bubble graph can be manipulated here:

The Waste Land in Context: Mapping Location in The Dial

I began mapping locations that are mentioned or alluded to within the November 1922 issue of The Dial, in which The Waste Land was initially published. I did not finish mapping the issue; I only completed the mapping for about half of the issue -- through Section I of Elie Faure's "Reflections on the Greek Genius." 

Although I did not finish, the pattern that emerged from my map was interesting. I did not encounter any references to places in England or the United States. I mapped two locations in South and Central America (Peru and the Valley of Mexico), but the majority of the locations were spread throughout Germany, Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. I would need to finish mapping locations throughout this issue of The to be certain, but this pattern of location seems to reflect the internationalist discourse that can be found throughout the issue, specifically in the advertisements.


View The Waste Land in Context: Location in The Dial in a larger map

Map of "The Fire Sermon"


View The Fire Sermon in a larger map

Most of the locations on this map are grouped near the Thames River.  I'm not sure what to make of the spatiality of the diagram alone.  The map does not offer much new analysis as far as I can see.  The landmarks show that the speaker never gets far from the shore of the Thames and remains very close to London until the very last lines.  

As I was mapping these points, though, the speaker's movements are erratic and often double back on itself.  For instance, the movement from Greenwich reach to the Isle of Dogs would require the speaker to travel from East to West.  "Elizabeth and Leicester," which I plotted with an educated guess, is a West to East movement (if I'm allowed to read the "and" more as a "to").  The other points maintain what seems to be a wandering and aimless traveller until the end.  The last three places the speaker mentions are "Moorgate" (where the Globe Theatre is), Margate Sands, and finally Carthage.  These places, read sequentially, take the reader from the center of London to the eastern coast, and then to the northeastern tip of Africa, which is further east than the last location in England in this section.  From here, the poem ends in India near the Ganges River.

By placing these locations in this order in his text, Eliot forces the reader to imagine in an eastward direction.  I think this might tie into the thematic conflation of eastern cultures/ literatures and rejuvenation (or a false sense of escape).  I think I'd need more locations plotted to make more of the spatial diagram of forces that Moretti focuses on in his chapter, "Maps."  

Mapping Locations in The Waste Land: The Fire Sermon

View Map of Locations in III. The Fire Sermon in a larger map

I was relatively unfamiliar with the geographical locations referenced throughout The Waste Land, so I decided to map all locations directly referred to in the third section in order to get a better idea of where these placeswere and what sort of area they occupied. I began by searching for each term in the search bar. However, many times I did not find what I was looking for right away, and so I searched the internet for more information about what exactly the poem was referring to and what modern place might exist instead of or approximate the location Eliot referenced. I color-coded the pinpoints based on how many times they were referenced in the stanza (most of them only once). 


View Map of Locations in III. The Fire Sermon in a larger map

This exercise proved to be very enlightening. I noted that most of the locations referenced gathered around a tight circle in the center of London, and there was a much looser rectangle around Greece and Turkey due to the references to the ancient world. This configuration made London take on a unique importance in the map, almost as if it were the origin of all the points, which then exploded in a tumultuous spray outwards from this narrow cluster. I drew shapes around each to indicate their clustering.


View Map of Locations in III. The Fire Sermon in a larger map

Mapping is definitely a tool I want to revisit in the future. I imagine it woud be extremely useful and illuminating when practiced on a work which has a familiar location, but I found it helpful simply for adding a bit of context and clarity to the mood and tone of the allusions to each location.