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A Distant Reading of 18th and 19th Century Anglophone Texts

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Mae Capozzi

on 6 April 2014

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Transcript of A Distant Reading of 18th and 19th Century Anglophone Texts

Exploratory Project for Summer Grant
136 titles from Project Gutenberg
Created a file MALLET could read:
./bin/mallet import-dir --input Re-Humanities --output Model4.mallet --keep-sequence --remove-stopwords
This produced a file called Model4.mallet.
I then had MALLET run a topic model:
./bin/mallet train-topics --input Model4.mallet --num-topics 20 --optimize-interval 20 --output-state Model4-state.gz --output-topic-keys Model4_keys.txt --output-doc-topics Model4_composition.txt
Topic Modeling in MALLET
MALLET is a Java-based software created by Andrew McCallum
I have used MALLET to create topic models from a corpus of 18th and 19th (and some 20th) century texts.
MALLET is a useful tool for humanists.
It is run from the command line so there is a steep learning curve, but once mastered it produces fruitful results
What is a Topic Model?
Topic Modeling works by taking words from a corpus of texts and placing them into different bins (topics).
Creates a series of topics which can be analyzed.
Topics can also be graphed to show change over time.
Useful for looking at a large body of texts.

Texts from Project Gutenberg
Graham, S., S. Weingart, and I. Milligan. "Getting Started with Topic Modeling and MALLET." The Programming Historian 2 (2012).
Moretti, Franco. "Conjectures on world literature." New left review (2000): 54-68.
Brief Indian History
1600: East India Company chartered by Queen Elizabeth I.
Company became more acquisitive during 1700s.
Unsuccessful effort to check the Company's aggression.
1813: missionaries travel to subcontinent.
1857: Indian Army mutiny. Marks start of the Raj.
Goals of this Project
To study the permeability of the barriers between Britain and India.
To use the digital humanities in postcolonial studies.
To explore the possibilities presented by topic modeling in the humanities.
To analyze the increasing impact of India on British literature during Company rule compared to the Raj.
A Postcolonial "Distant Reading" of 18th and 19th Century Anglophone Texts
First Topic Model
./bin/mallet train-topics --num-topics 20 --optimize-interval 20 --output-state topic-state.gz --output-topic-keys tutorial_keys.txt --output-doc-topics Model4_composition.txt
Model 4, Topic 16
Most of these terms concern India
Model 5
Model 6
Model 7
Model 4
Model 6
Mae Capozzi
Thank you!
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