Low-Barrier Text Analysis in the Classroom

Computing allows us to ask questions of texts at scale: students can now “read” all of Shakespeare’s works, Austen’s novels, or American presidents’ inaugural addresses (to name but three examples). Voyant is a web-based portal that facilitates such textual analysis. Visitors can either use default textual datasets or they can explore their own texts. The expansive interface allows researchers to choose from a suite of textual analysis tools to customize the experience and to explore texts through a variety of lenses. Much of this kind of analysis, however, still requires the discerning eye of the subject specialist — or burgeoning specialists — to contextualize the patterns and “interpretations” revealed by our machines.

In this simulcast workshop we posit Voyant as a low-barrier entry point for teachers and students interested in thinking with and through textual analysis. Workshop participants will:

  • examine the settings in the default Voyant interface
  • get hands-on experience using different tools within Voyant
  • learn from OH5 colleagues’ experiences teaching with Voyant
  • discuss pedagogical applications for textual analysis with Voyant
  • experiment on small textual datasets (or bring your own to explore!)

The unique design of this virtual Ohio Five workshop presentation brings together participants on their local campuses for a “satellite” workshop experience. A local representative from each of the five colleges will host their colleagues in a convenient location on their own campus, orchestrate the communal viewing of the virtual workshop, and act as a resource in the room for any questions that arise. These local hosts will also be able to maintain all local protocols for safe gatherings.

 A lightly edited recording of the Voyant workshop is available here: