Hypertext and Electronic Literature

This course looks back even as it looks forward, considering conventional media like printed texts and film, in addition to examining more revolutionary digital media.
LAB #3:  Textual Analysis with Wordle, or, literary data visualization

1.  In your group of 2-3,
choose a written literary text you'd like to analyze, something you can find online. This can be one of your favorite works of fiction or poetry, something you've written, something you're studying for another class, etc. If you'd like to work with poetry, make sure you have enough data -- the more words you have for this activity, the better your results will be. So, don't just use a single poem. Instead, try using the text from every poem written by a particular poet.

2. 
Cut and paste your raw textual data into Wordle. Play around with the various formatting options until your word cloud looks just how you want it to. Make careful choices so that both the words in the text and your engagement with the text is highlighted by the finished product. Since we're also discussing the film Helvetica this week, make sure to choose your typeface very carefully.

3. 
Now discuss. Look carefully at what you've created. What do you see? What does the word cloud you've created suggest about the original text? What does it tell you about the words, the themes, the character of the language, etc? What personality does the typeface you chose bring to the text? What questions does your Wordle raise for you as a reader? Take some notes as you're talking and be prepared to present your creation and your analysis of it to the rest of the class.

4.
Capture a screen image of your Wordle. See these instructions from the Wordle FAQ. Then, E-mail the image to me, so I can bring it up on the large screen for discussion.

5. 
Think further about textual analysis. We will be experimenting more with this sort of textual analysis later in the term. If you find yourself fascinated by this kind of work, a good next step would be to read Geoffrey Rockwell’s “What is Textual Analysis”.

Here's the Wordle I created from the text of the description for this class:
Electronic Literature Wordle

And here's some of the ones we created in class, starting with the Dr. Bronner's soap label:
bronner label

The entire text of every Emily Dickinson poem:
emily

The text of an MSN article about American Bandstand:
Screen shot 2012-04-18 at 8.51.12 PM

And the poetry of Mary Oliver:
Screen shot 2012-04-18 at 8.54.55 PM copy