After my false start, today actually kicks of #DigWriMo. I’m up at 5AM, with a small child, attempting to get some writing done before I go off to teach.
DiWriMo for real
So yesterday I took a pretty big plunge. I started using digital history evidence in the footnotes of an article I’m revising for publication
about feminist manifestos (and #writinginpublic, so feel free to offer comments!) I haven’t yet seen a lot of this, although admittedly I read relatively few history journals (shame on me).
This essay isn’t a “born digital” project. In fact, I’m a little nervous because the article has already undergone peer review without this kind of evidence. On the other hand I’m merely using a digital tool to do what I used to do manually, to calculate word frequency
. Except now I can insert a nifty little table in each footnote of the ten most common words in each of the four documents (maybe five haven’t decided yet if one stays) on which my argument rests.
This preliminary work has merely whetted my appetite to work with more feminist manifestos, both those formally labeled manifestos and those that functioned as such but haven’t always been accorded formal recognition by scholars. That project, inspired by my work with some digital history tools, such as voyant
and many eyes
, would allow me to do what historians do best, find connections, argue for causation, chart changes over time, but at a very intense level. I’ve learned to scrub text, but now I need to learn to lemmatize, but means writing my own lemma file.
For now, just using word tress, I could investigate which words “belong” to the most common word in all of the documents “women” for three and “woman” for one. I did a little bit of that yesterday.
In this example of Heresies, a feminist journal on politics and art I failed to scrub punctuation. However, I’m not really sure if many eyes word trees would work without punctuation because as the many eye’s website explains
Punctuation mattersUnlike many text visualization methods, such as tag clouds, the word tree does not ignore punctuation. In fact, it treats periods, commas and the like as separate words in the text, because within the flow of a text, punctuation can be critical to the meaning and rhythm of the phrases.
I need to work more to see the latter is valid without punctuation. A few zoom ins reveals some odd stuff, such as “art” itself in the chain from art, which is weird.
I also need to see how wordtrees work with much smaller documents, like manifestos, which usually run to only
Looking at two manifestos I’d already added to Many Eyes
Joreen’s 1969 Bitch Manifesto word tree
reveals, not unexpectedly, that bitch is the word most frequently associated with women. However what is quite interesting is that the threatened, supposed, trained, (relate), and taught all speak negatively, about the pressures of gender roles and socialization on women.
Looking at a very different document, a broadside (c 1972) by the founders of the Feminist Studio Workshop, an alternative art education program in Los Angeles, reveals a very different discourse associated with the word women, with the most common associations participate (finding), society, helpers, feel, (judy), contribute, free. The associations are more positive than those in the Bitch Manifesto.
Just this one comparison leaves me with host of future question:
Are there differences because the broadside isn’t labeled as a manifesto. In other words, are those things called manifestos by authors always more negative? Or is there some ideological difference between the authors of the two documents? Is it time specific? Do negative or positive connotations shift over time in feminist manifestos?
word count 636