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Hess Scholar Digital Humanities Assignments 2021: Voyant

Why Voyant?

Voyant is a remarkable text analysis tool that enables users to investigate exactly where and how words are used in their documents. The platform uploads and "ingests" the file before analysis.
Voyant Tools is a web-based text reading and analysis environment. It’s designed to make it easy for you to work with your own text or collection of texts in a variety of formats, including plain text, HTML, XML, PDF, RTF, and MS Word. You can also work with an existing collection of texts like Shakespeare (click the “Open” button on the main page to see other pre-defined collections of texts).
The main page of Voyant Tools allows you to load new texts in a variety of ways. For instance, you can paste in the contents of a single document into the main text box, or copy-and-paste a set of URLs, one per line. Alternatively, you can upload files from your local computer in a variety of formats, including plain text, HTML, XML, PDF, RTF, and MS Word.

Voyant: Poetry and Prose

Upload the document: Someday I'll Love Ocean Vuong (Ocean Vuong, 2015) into the Voyant interface: url, then press the "Reveal" button. Discuss your impressions of the visualization. Experiment with the interface until you feel comfortable. Here is a guide to the different tools on Voyant:!/guide/tools. Practice with the different settings on the visualization. Save the url for later access.

Now, upload the following document to Voyant: Mrs. Spring Fragrance. (This is ONLY the first short story in the collection: Mrs Spring Fragrance).

Workshop-Divide into groups: Take notes and reflect in writing on the following questions and prompts:

  1. In each Voyant visualization, what words seem most central and important?
  2. Try adding or subtracting the total number of terms used. Then click on the “term” button and look at the count of each of the words used in the text. 
  3. Choose 5 words to examine throughout the text by using the “reader “button. Use the "context" , "links" and the "phrase" button to see what words a word is connected with. What impression do you get of how the author uses a particular word? If it is used in multiple ways, describe the ways, and zero in on the way that seems most central to the text.
  4. Discuss: How does the question of genre: poetry or prose-play into the mechanics of the visualization? Is Voyant more effective for one of these texts more than the other? If so, why?

Voyant: Interpretation and Misinterpretation: preparing a Text

Voyant: Interpretation and Misinterpretation

Go to a Project Gutenberg text-our example is the e-book, Mrs. Spring Fragrance. Or if looking for a poem, try the Poetry Foundation. Here is a link to their page on Asian American Voices in Poetry.

Copy the url of the e-book, and paste it into the appropriate window in the Voyant interface.  Press the load button.

Allow the visualizer to load. After it loads, what impression does it give you? What words do you see that are not relevant to the book as a work of literature -i.e., publication information, or metadata? What other words would you discount in importance, if any, ex. “the, an”?  Look at the tutorial and try playing with “stopwords”-that is the tool Voyant gives you to decide whether to discount words and remove them from your visualization. Determine the necessary stopwords to use in this instance, and keep a list of the terms you delete from the list provided by Voyant.

Reload the visualization. What is your impression of the words in the visualizer? Which words seem most important? Would you still delete any, and if so, why?

Text Curation and Preparation

Choose a different text from Project Gutenberg. Select all and COPY all of the text in the doc. In a blank doc file, PASTE all the text, then save the document. Then clean up the document-i.e., remove anything you don’t want Voyant to consider-i.e., the source of the text, e.g., the site it is found on, licensing information, etc. You also might choose to delete the table of contents and the preface- the “paratextual” information. Or even consider just one part of the text-like, a poem, short story or a book chapter. It is your choice.

Then upload your document to Voyant.

Discussion Questions:

  • What information did you choose to delete and keep? Why? For example, did you choose to delete or keep the table of contents?
  • How did Voyant affect your reading and understanding of the text?
  • How might Voyant lead you to read the text differently in the future?
  • Are there potential flaws and pitfalls in Voyant? Discuss how and why it works or doesn’t.

Voyant: Dreamscape Excercise

Discussion Questions: Reflect in writing and perform interactive tasks. The platform in which the writing is presented can be up to the individual instructor if direct map annotation is not suitable.

  •  Annotate directly onto the Dreamscape map itself by selecting an area, then typing into the text box.

Hover over "?" for Tools menu. toolsmenu 

Export export buttonfor later access to DV and annotations.


DQ: What impression do you get from the Dreamscape Visualization? How does it interact with the story, "Mrs. Spring Fragrance"? How does it interact with your own chosen text? Do you think the "Dreamscape" enhances or detracts from your understanding of the story, and why?

Are you getting an accurate impression? In the MSF Dreamscape example, look at the way the word "Lao" is used in the text as opposed to the way it is used on the map.  What about "San Jose"? To improve the accuracy of the Dreamscape, try using the "Select Alternative Location" button directly on the map by clicking on a pin.

Critique questions of accuracy and context in this data visualization. What might make a text better adapted to this sort of DV? What might make it difficult? How might you edit a text so that it would be better adapted to this exercise?