Voyant Not Reading Report


I first cleaned up the first document, The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, and then plugged this in to Voyant. I usually first observed what came up first: looking at the cirrus cloud, links, and terms making sure to zoom out a bit and play around with these features. The cirrus cloud usually led me to a thread of inquiry about the works and then I would search these terms along the graph to see how they compare. Generally, the bubbliness features didn’t prove very useful for me. I repeated this when I added the other four texts to my corpus only this time I had an awareness of what sorts of words and connections I was looking for. After reviewing all of this I searched the terms that had appeared relevant throughout my investigation in Google’s Ngram. Ngram provided a seemingly representative literary basis to back the suspicions and hunches I had about my corpus of works overall. I found Ngram useful for zooming out and discovering the big picture of this project.



After uploading The Brothers’ Grimm Fairy Tales onto Voyant I was first curious about the history of them. They were published in 1812 so I kept this in mind as I used the different tools. I also kept in mind that these are a collection of tales so they are sort of their own corpus already without considering the other texts I might want to compare against them. These are children’s stories so I am interested in comparing them across other children’s stories.



Here is the initial document summary:


My hypothesis from the start had a sort of environmental consciousness element to it. I was curious to see how these stories (just The Brothers Grimm alone) relate to the term “forest” or “wilderness” and what sort of words appear connected to them. I did this in order to see if there is a way in which we relate the concept of nature to children begins to be othered or considered separate. As this was 1812 and industrial development was growing I think it is important to try and understand the ways in which our stories and mythologies bridge this disconnect between nature and man.


In the initial cirrus bubble these words popped up:

Considering it is a collection of children’s tales most of the words are fairly simple and grounded in normal everyday things: home, house, door, father, mother, wife, son, tree, etc. I was also surprised to encounter “king” here because the idea of monarchy I assume would be something fading from everyday vernacular until I consider that I was still told stories of kingdoms and lands far away. As if we are still trying to impress upon children that monarchies do exist somewhere far away and that they are magic and a setting separate from but similar to our own realities.


As I zoomed out a little on the cirrus cloud I saw the word I was looking for come into view: forest.

Among “forest” are words of these magical kingdom settings: dwarf, peasant, castle, queen, princess, prince.


I also noticed animal names begin to pop up and it brought to mind questions of these animal archetypes. What role does the fox usually play in these stories? Is it mischievous and clever?


What role did the cat play in these stories? The wolf? The birds? I think these animals have as much to do with the environmental psychology to consider as the forest itself. Are these animals beginning to play roles to scare children from the forest; do they serve as warning tales?


I wanted to see some of these words together on a graph to give a better idea of when they are occurring:


Although, this graph is almost too full to grapple with so I decided to pair these words up in smaller groups.


Like “forest” and “princess”

They seem to correlate relatively closely.


Next “cat” and “fox”


Some of the word links I found interesting:


I was finding that these animal characters appear together a lot of the time. Next, I wanted to add more stories to the corpus overall.



The other children’s works I added were:


The Cat and the Fiddle (a collection of children’s stories, mostly nursery rhymes like the classics published in 2010 but stories are much older) by Bell and Richmond


The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling published 1894


Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie published 1904


The Indian Fairy Book (stories by Cornelius Matthews written by Henry Schoolcraft)


The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales published 1812


Since this has now expanded to a fairly large corpus I wanted to see first what were the most commonly used words.




The cirrus cloud first brought me here when I expanded it:



I noticed many words of the fairy tale realm still appear: village, forest, wolf, and various character names.


I also noticed that by expanding the corpus I was given different words for the environment like “jungle”.


“Jungle” and “forest” have different connotations yet they both look at natural settings. Since I introduced The Jungle Book into this corpus I am not surprised that this has popped up as well.


I say the term spirit in the cirrus bubble and wanted to compare how that and forest appeared across the texts.


Spirit is most present in The Indian Fairy Book while it is much less present in the rest. I am wondering if this is because it is told through the Indian tradition rather than the English/Western tradition like the rest of the texts I chose.



Adding “jungle” seemed to show that the term mostly appears in The Jungle Book.


Next, I wanted to look at animals in links and graphs.


That ended up giving me this large knot of words. Somehow, this also proved helpful. It shows a lot of different animals that seem to interact with one another. I then wanted to explore these terms on the graph to see which animals appeared in most stories.


The Jungle book had the largest variety of animals while the Cat and the Fiddle had the most uses of the terms “cat” and “cow”



Then, I took my findings to googles NGram viewer.


First, I searched the common animals across lots of books.

Overall, the fox is least popular in books while the cat has been gaining popularity for the last two centuries. Possibly because we are separate from the wilderness and cats are becoming common household pets. Just as well, lion decreases in use among books again hinting at a separation from the wild.




The use of the word “spirit” vastly overwhelms the other two in this graph yet the decrease of use plummets around 1850. This could do with the advance and belief in science over spirituality.


When I take away spirit and look at forest and jungle it is much easier to see the difference:

“Forest” is much more widely used in books compared to “jungle” but “jungle” has seen a small increase over the years. Possibly due to voyeurism and literature focused in the western tradition.


Then I wanted to take my original question back to the idea of kingdom settings:


The most obvious detail is that all of these words have been on the decline since the 1800s and their use in the 2000s is very small compared to what it was two centuries ago.



Concerning my initial text and algorithmic criticism I learned that there is a connection among the animal archetypes, mainly that they appear together and with certain qualities whether it be a cat with domestic objects like milk or a fox with connotations of cleverness. I also learned through algorithmic criticism that in my original text the idea of a Kingdom persisted strongly throughout the stories and all the nuances that come along with that world: dwarfs, Kings, Queens, peasants, etc. Overall, I found that ideas of Kingdom and the myths that go along with them are fading from our body of literature in present day. Though the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales and the rest of my corpus include words like “king” most of those works were published in the 1800s. I wanted to explore environmental consciousness through these texts so I looked at animals throughout and I found that many animals are declining in appearance in literature (as in the Ngram viewer), I believe, due to the fact that they are encountered less on a regular basis and are escaping our modern psyche.


What I’ve learned about algorithmic criticism is that it will become useful in our big data world. As it is not realistic to try to read every important novel nor every important novel in one genre alone, algorithmic criticism allows people to follow hunches and curiosities they may have about whole bodies of literature without having to dedicate a lifetime to reading these texts. While algorithmic criticism will never replace reading novels it does allow one to zoom out from one novel and explore the patterns residing among a large body of literature. I find that Voyant is really helpful in pointing out patterns to a reader. Knowing how often a word occurs is a clear sign of its importance in the text just as comparing the occurrence of two words shows if they are closely linked and can urge a reader to question why that may be. I also found NGram to be a good tool in showing how the themes in the novel measure up over time amongst other works. I would use algorithmic criticism in the future and I’m glad to have had a chance to explore some of it in this project.




Not Reading Alger

Alger Text-

Although I haven’t read Alger’s, Adrift in New York Or, Tom and Florence Braving the World, I did use Voyant tools to look at data for it.

Under the Cirrus cloud I found these common words:

I know that there is a lot of dialogue in the novel due to the occurrence of “said”. I also know that old New York slang like “dodger” comes up a lot (unless that’s a name?). There is also a heavy influence of New York as the setting. Words like “linden, Leighton, bolten” come up a lot as well. There are characters like Tim, Florence, friends, and an uncle. I assume they talk about money quite a bit and being young and poor.

From the trends segment, I found out Dodger is a character and his name occurs the most around the middle of the novel so I’m assuming Dodger is extremely important to the plot of the novel. Strangely, the use of Florence’s name goes down significantly when Dodger’s goes up. This could be because Florence is absent for this part of the text. The name Curtis also goes down and roughly follows the same pattern as Florence’s name.

Some of the “phrases’ featured below also give away some sense of style the novel is written in and some sense of themes throughout the work.

“he isn’t fit company for the likes of you” leads me to believe there are classist tones throughout the novel. The phrase “the saloon and walked up to a bar” makes me believe there is an element of alcoholism in the text and reckless youthful behavior.

I know from the Wikipedia article on Alger that there is a heavy theme of an impoverished boy being spotted by a wealthy person and given access to wealth. Usually the boy is doing something morally right or honest to merit the reward of riches like turning in a found wallet.

After I downloaded the corpus of Alder texts the cirrus bubble came up like this:

From this I can gather that all the texts are dialogue heavy and refer to money, class, time, and youth.

Some of these phrases reflect the overarching themes across Alger’s works:

All of these phrases seem to involve money or violence. As the wiki suggested about Alger it was really hard for him to branch out of his usual tropes in his texts.

The correlations also suggest the themes of work, money, earning, and generally hard times in America:

On ngrams I first searched the correlated words “cold” and “expense”

Both are very common words and this didn’t prove successful.

Then, on ngrams I searched a bunch of words having to do with work, money, and earning a living which showed me a slight boost of the word “work” around the 1920s and great depression era. Alger’s works were written in the 19th century and he died in 1899 so it is possibly his works circulated through the twenties and based on his themes of rags to riches I’m guessing they might have been popular in the twenties maybe more so than when Alger was alive.


Voyant Reading of Texts: The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales

I’m working on examining the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. I want to look at the collective works of all the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. I’m curious to see if there are words of The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales that carry associations across all of the texts. My hypothesis so far involves certain archetypes like the fox in terms of mischief, slyness, and cunning.

I also wanted to look at if these fairy tales contain more serious content than modern children’s stories (i.e. are they more scary, deadly, etc.).

I’m curious about how these various characters speak and what that may say about those archetypes across the board in The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales.

On a more personal and ecological point I might want to investigate words surrounding the setting of the stories. Most of these fairy tales take place in the forest. Is the forest always a place where the mysterious/supernatural elements come in to play? How do the farmer characters relate to the land? Because this text was published in 1812 and society is going through a changing relation to land, resources, and environment (i.e. commodification of land rather than an active participant and creature of the land) do these children’s fairy tales reflect any of this? From what I’ve read in the fairy tales the forest usually comes up as a mystical, isolated place.

Lastly I’m curious to look at The Brothers Grimm mention of marriage in relation to gender/age. Is marriage simply proposed as an exchange of commodity or is marriage portrayed in terms of love?


Voyant Reading of Text: The Story of the Youth Who Went Fourth to Learn What Fear Was

For my Voyant reading of the text I read the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale “The Story of the Youth Who Went Fourth to Learn What Fear Was”. Before even reading the text Voyant was able to give me some jumping off points. The Cirrus word cloud has helped me see what sorts of words appear the most which in this case were words like “shudder” “father” “youth” “learn” “king” and “boy”. The trends segment showed me when these words appeared the most. It was interesting in the case of the word “shudder” because it appears seven times in the first segment and eight in the last but much less throughout the middle of the story. The summary was mildly interesting but I didn’t find it useful to my reading of the text. For instance, the summary told me it has an average of 17 words per sentence which in the case of a fairy tale seems about right. The contexts section I found useful because it provided a bit of surrounding text for when the most commonly used words appear. Bubbliness was also interesting and I realized “father” and “learn” appear together quite a bit. Voyant showed me the common trends in the wording of the text but it doesn’t provide any analysis and it doesn’t provide much context. I think it is an interesting and useful site and can help me with text analysis in the future.


I’m interested in looking at the collective works of The Brothers Grimm fairy tales. I’m curious to see if there re certain words that carry associations across the body of work. For instance, there are several animal archetypes that appear in different stories like the fox. Are words like cunning, mischievous, etc. associated with fox a lot?

Other things I’d be interested in looking at is whether these stories really are scarier than modern children’s stories. I could do this by looking at how many times scary or serious imagery and plots are used in comparison to other children’s stories.

I’m also interested in exploring history of words in the case of “forest” “farm” and other environmental words. My hypothesis is that these words appear in almost every story and I’m curious what this means in terms of enivironmental psychology and modern relation to these words. For example, the forest seems to be something “other” and where all the problems and adventures take place in the Brothers Grimm tales.

Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street Annotations

After reading the annotations on Slate for Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street, I feel I have a better understanding of what online annotations can do. Before, I thought annotations were simply there to help the reader better understand the poem (i.e. looking up definitions, noting what is confusing to them). Online annotations seem to be more thought out and more self aware in the sense that they are one interpretation of a reading that is meant to guide other readers to better understand the text. The annotations on Slate I found helpful for the most part. As this is an older text there is a lot of context I might need to better understand it and the sorts of annotations that appeared on Slate would start out by informing the reader of something and then draw the reader towards how this may affect an interpretation of the poem. For example, there was an annotation about “Columns” that really helped me think of the characters in a military hierarchy concept with Bartleby as the solitary one. Initially the annotations on genius seemed like an eyesore to me. The way everything is highlighted over and the second the cursor runs over it becomes bright yellow. I found that distracting because it draws me to read the annotations right away. However, the content of many of the annotations I found insightful and of high quality. There was an annotation on genius having to do with reform to simplify the legal process and how that is significant in terms of themes of conformity and the special case of Bartleby. These annotations overall were helpful and I think will help me update my own online annotations as I have a better sense of what they should be like and what they can do for a reader. Specifically, my annotations will point out some information about something but they don’t really help to color the overall sense or meaning of the poem so I hope to work on that this week.