How Not to Read a Novel/Narrative Assignment

This project will sum up what you’ve learned about approaching a text as data – – rather than or in addition to approaching a text as a contained, coherent, meaningful whole.  This is not an essay.  Instead, think of it as a report.  You should post your report – – as a page – – to your WordPress site.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

First, follow the “algorithmic” procedures you’ve already practiced on our Alger corpus (and on your original text).  I.e. to write your report, you will have to first:

  1. after cleaning up the text file for your novel/narrative, upload the file to Voyant and analyze your text with as many Voyant tools as you can.  Your goal here is to find significant patterns within the text and to generate interesting questions for further inquiry.
  2.  next, create a corpus.  You should first figure out how you will organize this corpus: by author, by theme, by genre, by date, etc.  Download/upload at least 5 texts – – including your original text – –  into Voyant.  Again, use the Voyant tools to: find or expand on significant patterns generated by your original text; test and explore the questions that you produced from step one above across an entire corpus.
  3. do a very distant reading.  Here, you will take the results of your first two steps and use Google’s Ngram viewer to explore these results at a longer and broader level – – using thousands of texts and looking across decades. 

    Second, your final report should be divided into the following sections:

    1.Method: describe how you used Voyant and Ngram for each step.

2.Process: explain how your intellectual inquiry developed through all three stages.  In other words, what kinds of questions, surprises, discoveries occurred at each of the three steps (see above).

3.Reflections: explain two things: sum up what you think you’ve learned about your original text via algorithmic criticism; and, what you’ve learned about doing algorithmic criticism.

Keep your prose clear and error-free.  Use images, charts, etc. from Voyant and Ngram viewer to illustrate your report.