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College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences News

Text Analysis Provides New Insights into the Writings of Southwest Authors, by Kevin Comerford

by Amy Winter on 2018-09-14T10:00:00-06:00 in Library | Comments

UNM Libraries Digital Initiatives and Information Technologies departments are collaborating on a project that lets students and researchers perform computational analysis on the manuscripts of Rudolfo Anaya and Tony Hillerman.  This type of research method is called Text Analysis, and it is used by Digital Humanists and social scientists to examine patterns of communication in a replicable and systematic manner.


A screenshot of the Voyant text analysis tool
The University Libraries' new Text Analysis server:


Over the last year, graduate fellow Daejin Kim and staff member Amy Winter at the library's Digital Initiatives department have been preparing digital copies of manuscripts by Rudolfo Anaya and Tony Hillerman so they can be used for Text Analysis research.  Each manuscript is scanned and turned into a text document.  The documents are then encoded in an XML format called TEI before they are uploaded to a Text Analysis server.  To date, manuscripts for the novels Tortuga and Heart of Aztlán by Rudolfo Anaya, and The Blessing Way, Fly on the Wall, and Dancehall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman have been fully prepared for Text Analysis research.  Additional manuscripts will be added to the server in late 2018.

Patrick Schierstein of the library's IT department implemented a system called Voyant Tools for this project, a web-based text reading and analysis environment that was developed by Stéfan Sinclair of McGill University and Geoffrey Rockwell of the University of Alberta.  Professor Sinclair also graciously volunteered his time on the project to make sure that UNM received the latest updates to the Voyant server code.

The Voyant Tools server and the five encoded manuscripts are available for public use on the library's website.

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