• A Beginner’s Guide to Using Voyant for Digital Theme Analysis

    Randa El Khatib, Shawna Ross (see profile)
    Computer Studies in Language and Literature, Connected Academics, Digital Humanists
    Digital humanities, Visualization in literature, Jane Eyre (Brontë, Charlotte), Frankenstein (Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft), Themes, motives, Digital media
    Item Type:
    digital humanities, theme analysis, literary criticism, Voyant, visualization, digital literary studies
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    “Digital Theme Analysis” depicts the role that thematic analysis plays in literary criticism, places traditional thematic analysis approaches alongside digital ones, and offers best practices for carrying out digital thematic analysis in the context of Voyant Tools. The chapter identifies thematic analysis as a meaningful pattern that can be traced throughout text(s) that may form the foundation for critical interpretation. Authors draw continuities between traditional theme analysis that revolves around close reading and digital theme analysis that can be carried out using a variety of automated digital methodologies, and indicate how the latter can help accelerate the process while ensuring that the significance of themes are accurately estimated through an empirical, machined approach. Two applications of digital theme analysis are illustrated using Voyant Tools, a popular open-source tool that combines a variety of simple text-mining tools in a single, intuitive graphical user interface. The first case study is an ecological reading of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and the second an exploratory thematic analysis of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, through which best practices for carrying out digital thematic analysis are proposed. Together, the chapter demonstrates how digital theme analysis can serve as a point of entry for an almost on-demand approach to digital theme analysis—providing that the researcher understands the applications of the tool and how to prepare and interpret the data, which they can incorporate alongside close reading to create a sophisticated, fully fleshed out literary argument that takes advantage of the unprecedented speed and scope of distant reading.
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago


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