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AnnaP's Final Presentation Write-up

AnnaP's picture

My final project was a collaborative one with cr88, in which we created word clouds of the full texts of The Plague and The Origin of Species to look at 1) the differences and commonalities between scientific and literary texts, as embodied by this bizarre representational form, and 2) different forms of literary analysis outside of the ones we are used to and how they can be useful. These were the images we produced:

The Origin of Species



The Plague


I must say that I was actually surprised and pleased at how actively people offered up their thoughts, and also at how many commonalities there were between what they noticed and what I noticed. People said almost all of cr88 and my observations before we could say them, pointing out the words of uncertainty present in both texts as well as the role of words about life and death.

I was a little bit surprised that more people didn’t push back against this type of representation or critique it; I myself certainly find it pretty problematic even if I found it productive to look at briefly. Ultimately, I also wondered whether people’s academic backgrounds (i.e., whether people were more interested in science or literature) influenced their perceptions of or thoughts on word clouds as a useful form of representation. I would be interested to hear other people's thoughts on this.



Anne Dalke's picture

Reading Reductively

See an intriguing analysis of this methodology @ Word Cloud Analysis, a project completed for my other class this semester.

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