distant reading

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.

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.