Reading The Crisis with Voyant

Looking at The Crisis through Voyant was a novel way of reading through text that ultimately proved to be quite difficult. In particular, I found it hard  to know the right questions to ask. 

The thing about the sort of close readings I am used to, is that your brain is the machine, indexing and interpreting in ways that we don't think twice about. It’s like walking versus driving. You can do things with a car that you could never do by just walking, but you have to adapt your thinking to the vehicle's mode of transportation. The kind of connections that we make through reading the text have to be manually input by us, yet, without satisfactory knowledge of the material I was feeding Voyant, any question or hypothesis felt like a stab in the dark. 

I wanted to know if the language surrounding race changed over time in The Crisis, and so I plugged in the words "negro" "colored" and "black", and my results were... inconclusive. I had assumed that as time went on, negro and colored would go out of fashion and Black would become far more popular, but that wasn't the case. Even futher, there are no results for "African American", I hadn't realized how recent the term was.

Overall, negro and colored were both used seemingly interchangably, with black being far less used overall. in the last few data points, however, use of colored and negro is down, while black remains the same. I'm not sure what exactly to make of any of it. 

Regardless of how much more removed I felt, it turns out, distanced textual analysis still requires one to get their hands in the mud and grapple. Reading Crisis through Voyant only convinced me of the need of both distanced and closed reading working together in tandem for more complete picture.