Week 5 – Voyant

For this week’s assignment, I was tasked with creating/using a corpus and seeing what I may extract from it via a web tool called Voyant.

I chose to create my own corpus, using the data from Abraham Lincoln’s first presidential address and his final presidential address. The reason why I chose to analyze these pieces was to see if there were any connections between the two, as well as to see how his addresses changed over the years.

What I infer from these images is that Lincoln preferred easy language over complexities. I also noted that certain words were used quite often and interconnected to his overall messages; Words such as union, state, government, and man were emphasized in his messages.

Reflecting on this choice, I think that you could infer more from close reading as opposed to distant reading for subjects such as tone and overall intensity in his messages. However, it is interesting to use distant reading techniques to see which words he tends to prefer and how they may be linked together.

I think that distant reading can be a powerful tool, especially when using it with greater volumes of material. For example, had I used every single piece ever written or recorded from Abraham Lincoln, this could have provided a greater insight into exactly what vocabulary he preferred as well as their connections to each other.

I found using Voyant itself to be somewhat confusing. I attempted to upload my own files several times, I also tried using URLs with limited to no success. Thankfully, I am familiar with tools like Voyant, and as such could quickly compile my own corpus and paste the raw text into its engine.

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