Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Text Analysis: A Hermeneutical Exercise

I'll be teaching a short intro workshop on text analysis using Voyant, an open-source, web-based application.   Geoffrey Rockwell (Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta, Canada) and Stéfan Sinclair (Associate Professor of Digital Humanities at McGill University) developed the application to support scholarly reading and interpretation of texts or corpus, particularly by scholars in the digital humanities.   I've been reading their text, Hermeneutica: Computer-Assisted Interpretation in the Humanities, to brush up on my knowledge in the teaching of the session to get to teach Using Voyant and the NLTK for Text Analysis.

 This video is part of the #dariahTeach platform (http://teach.dariah.eu), an open-source, community-driven platform for teaching and training materials for the digital arts and humanities.  As part of the course Introduction to Digital Humanities and the series Digital Humanities in Practice, this video discusses text visualization in Digital Humanities, emphasising that visualisation is not the end product but an intellectual process of thinking and interpreting text.

In their book in Hermeneutica, Rockwell and Sinclair suggest:
"In the slippage between our literary notion of a text and the computer's literal processing lie the disappointment and the possibility of text analysis.  Computers cannot understand a text for us.  They can, however, do things that may surprise us."