Green and Yellow in The Egoist and The Crisis

Megan Grier and Katie Boul


We decided to look at the words yellow and green (our two favorite colors), in The Crisis and The Egoist.

We were surprised to find that in The Crisis, yellow was actually a frequently used word. Then, when we looked at the KWIC panel, it became apparent that yellow was actually referring to the Japanese race. Taking into account the fact that The Crisis was a magazine aimed towards the advancement of African Americans and therefore talked mainly about the issues of racism and prejudice, it actually made sense that yellow would be so frequently used. The word green was surprisingly used more frequently than yellow, but upon further investigation, it became clear that most of the usages were for last names, which skewed the data pretty significantly.

The use of the words yellow and green follow a similar trend in the Egoist as they do in the Crisis. Green occurs the most (12 times) in the February 1914 issue, and the primary user of the word is James Joyce in his first installment of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In this volume, at least, green is never used as a last name, a distinction that does set it apart from the Crisis. Yellow is used a bit less, maxing out at 8 times in the December 1919 issue. Interestingly, James Joyce is, again, the author that employs the word yellow the majority of the times it appears in the magazine. The Joyce piece in this issue is Episode X of Ulysses.

One other note on the word yellow in the December 1919 issue: Voyant claims that the word yellow is used 8 times. However, when you search for the word in a PDF version of the document, it comes up 9 times. This must be an instance of the “dirty” data that Dr. Drouin referenced.

In regards to the entire corpus, green was still a pretty frequently used term, but again due to being a last name, so it’s not really a true representation of the term in the whole corpus. Yellow was used pretty frequently as well (though not as often as green). This probably has something to do with the fact that The Crisis, in which yellow was a frequently used term, accounts for a huge chunk of the corpus.

A question that came from this is if there would possibly be some way to filter out certain uses of a word. If we could’ve filtered out all uses of green as a last name, we would have gotten a better representation of the definition of the term that we were using. We’re not sure if that is already possible within Voyant, but it would be really neat to be able to filter out certain uses of words and I think it would help give a true representation of a term if you’re looking for a really specific term.



Essays and Egoism: WWI and the MJP Timeline

Unsurprisingly, a search for "Egoism" brings up four pieces from The Egoist. The most interesting piece of these was "'The Egoist's' Employment of Words," a letter to the editor of The Egoist taking Dora Marsden to task over her earlier condemnation ( "I Am," in the January 1, 1915 issue) of the way in which other feminists attempt to fight for their rights. Moreover, clicking through to this piece gave me access to many other critical pieces on the same page, other letters to the editor questioning Dora Marsden's writings and her commitment to egoism, feminism, and logic. These writings would be intriguing to tie together with Marsden's pieces in the August 1914 issue that I examined for today, comparing the 1915 criticisms of these readers with Marsden's earlier writings and examining the common themes between them. 

A search for Dora Marsden as author only turns up four pieces. As it seemed that Marsden had at least one piece in almost every issue of The Freewoman, The New Freewoman, and The Egoist, it seems that The Egoist has not been extensively recorded within the timeline as of yet. Of the four pieces, two were ones I had added. The remaining pieces were "I Am," previously mentioned, which detailed the magazine's mission and professed a decided distaste for both words and civilization, and a "Views and Comments" section of May 1, 1915 which asserted that workers were being taken advantage of and criticizes the principles of democracy. These pieces are far less focused on war, but the "Views and Comments" piece seems to hearken back to Marsden's assertions in her earlier "Views and Comments" section of September 1914, in which she states that World War I is not inspiring men to enlist in high numbers largely because they cannot afford it.  
Under the topic of class, there is little to be found. The two previously mentioned "Views and Comments" pieces are present, as well as an intriguing advertisement from Scribner's: "If a King's Doctor told you to take Sanatogen..." The advertisement ties issues of class to the purchase of the medicine in question. 
As all of the pieces I chose were essays, there were quite a few results in this category. Significant related pieces include "The War," an article from The Crisis which deals with racial issues surrounding World War I and could make for interesting comparison with Marsden's articles on class, "Artists and the War" from BLAST II, which examines the roles of artists in the war, a topic that coincides nicely with Richard Aldington's piece. The large number of essays found here under this genre illustrates the dependence of magazines of the period on this form of content. 
The timeline features 22 entries from The Egoist. Many of these are pieces already mentioned above. The others are mainly either poetry or reviews of art, such as "Gaudier-Brzeska's Art" from the September 1, 1915 issue, which describes the evolution of the sculptor's work and laments his death (which again echoes the assertions of Aldington that artists are being killed in the war and bringing about the end of modernist art). Poetry includes "Chicago" and "Poems of France." Additionally, there are several entries marking various events in Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which was being published as a serial in The Egoist during the period. It appears, then, that the material within The Egoist is neatly divided between literary or artistic material and discussion of Egoism and its philosohy and practice. 
I see the timeline as a promising tool for discovery with great potential. Though there were not many terribly unusual connections, the timeline did alert me to things I might not have noticed or connected otherwise, such as the recuring discussion of Kongzi (Confucius) and his philosophy, as well as discussion of other ancient Chinese philosophers. Moreover, it was intriguing just to scan through the timeline and let the names of pieces catch my eye, and to see wildly disparate pieces arrayed in chronological order, placed in temporal context. 


text mining lab

Part I
1. The Egoist:

Most frequent: life, man, new, said, time

Most notable peaks: new, given, way, course, le

Most distinctive: law, art, pleasure, goodwill, progress, men, believe, think, mother, chastity, life, love, people …

What does this say about it: life, love, chastity, man, law, people--concerns of human beings. new, life, progress, way, time--life and living, going forward. mother, chastity, life--fertility. art, pleasure, believe--interpretation.


Most frequent: old, night, little, love, eyes

Most notable peaks: new, shall, things, light, eyes

Most distinctive: oh, baby, revenge, stars, lady, eliot, afternoon, rodker, john, dance, river

What does this say about it: old, new, baby--age, evolution, decay, growth. stars, river, night, light--nature. night, afternoon--time. dance, revenge, love--things people do.

2. The Egoist:

No. documents: 74

Longest issues: Vol1 No6, Vol1 No16, Shortest: Vol5 No8, Vol5 No7

Highest vocab density: Vol5 No8, Vol5 No9, Lowest: Vol1 No3, Vol1 No6

What does this say about it: Seems to get shorter over time according to time, and the shorter issues also have higher vocab densities. They had to be more concise and use less fluff?


No. documents: 26

Longest issues: Vol5 No6, Vol5 No5, Shortest: Vol3 No6, Vol1 No1

Highest vocab density: Vol3 No6, Vol3 No5, Lowest: Vol5 No6, Vol5 No5

What does this say about it: Inverse correlation between length and vocab density.

Overall: It looks like when they get shorter they cut out the unimportant or repetitive because they still have relatively higher word variation in the shorter issues.

3. Time and Love. The word trends graphs generated for these two words in both issues are quite interesting. In the Egoist, time is more frequent than love almost the whole time except one crazy peak in love early on. In Others, it’s the opposite: love is generally much higher than time except in a couple spots.


      Others (love blue, time green)               Egoist (love green, time blue)


Power and War in the Egoist. July 1917-July 1919 high peaks of “power”. “War” more common between August and December 1914 and October 1915-June 1917.


Part II

1. Most frequent: new, colored, negro, man, men

Most notable peaks: year, negro, given, years, cents

Most distinctive: colored, negro, new, york, people, race, white, south...

What does this say about it: man, men, negro, people, race--humans. colored, negro, white, race--equality/inequality, segmenting society.

No. documents: 508

Longest issues: Blast 6.20, Crisis 18.2; Others 3.6 and 1.1 are the shortest.

Highest vocab density: Other 3.6 and 3.5; least dense are Little Review and Crisis

What does this say about it: Longer ones have lower vocab density and vice versa, in general.

2. Time and love. Time is pretty constant, love is way high or way low with some middle.

3. The magazines focus on different things so I think it makes more sense to use this tool to identify a few magazines that might have thematic overlap and then to look at those individually to see how they change over time or relate to the historical context. For example, words like colored and negro, their graphs look like heart monitors because there’s nothing then a spike, nothing then a spike, etc., which means only certain magazines have high frequencies of these words, skewing the overall highest word frequencies across the corpus.


The skin I designed