Textual analysis allows historians to pay close attention to nuances in the verbiage, rhetoric, and word usage in primary documents over time. Through features such as word clouds, keyword in context visualizations, and concept highlighting, researchers and historians can mine documents for information and verbal clues not as clearly visible without machine-aid to present visual demonstrations of the connective threads between the text and a historical argument. Word usage and meanings change, using textual analysis tools, one can ask why particular words appear at certain times and places in a corpus of texts and examine the meaning, context, and relationship to other words in making or enhancing a historical argument. Textual analysis tools further help historians analyze the contingent connective threads in historical texts by manipulating and analyzing all words on an equal footing, even the common words that many researchers continually disregard. These tools aid the historian in gleaning what a text or series of documents narrates about particular themes, people, or events. Certain elements are highlighted and scholars can investigate these texts in numerous ways to determine why particular words or contexts come into focus while others fade in importance. Tracing the interconnections of all the different textual threads, analytical procedures employed for comparing texts can visually display the relationships among discourse, rhetoric, and ideas. The visual representations can help scholars demonstrate the connections and their analysis to broad and particular audiences alike through a non-linear mode of teaching. Therefore, textual encoding and analysis tools emerge as crucial components for piecing together and visually demonstrating historical analysis.
This project employs two primary forms of textual analysis. One in the form of TokenX, developed and customized for the "Buffalo Bill, Rough Riders and the Manly Image" digital project by Brian Pytlik Zillig at the University of Nebraska's Center for Digital Research in the Humanities and the other in the form of concept highlighting.
Powerful text-analysis software TokenX provides several visualizations of textual materials. The "keyword in context" visualization, for instance, provides more in-depth insights into word contexts within individual and corpus texts and serve as a method for analyzing the connective tissue within language and across texts. The context of the key words examined within texts further demonstrates the relationships among discourse, rhetoric, and ideas concerning manliness and the Rough Riders. Textual analysis word clouds are visual representations of the frequency of word usage in a given text or set of texts. Words used most often appear larger providing a visual depiction of vital key words. This inquiry tool allows one to decipher language usage and word significance within texts. The word cloud visualizations allow one to understand immediately the major themes of the texts and provide a window into the evidence for the argument concerning the public imagination. Preliminary text analysis and data mining reveals that men and man are among the most commonly used words in the primary source materials for this project. Additional frequently occurring words connect directly to manly character including graceful, brave, heroic or hero, civilization, progress, daring, martial, and fearless; these connections highlight the written image of manliness in the American mind. Through textual analysis tools, the project reveals a deeper meaning to the use of the written word and the movement of ideas that stimulated modes of American imperial thinking concerning manhood and the entrenchment in the American mind of particular manly characteristics and their connection to imperial thought and endeavors.
Once in the TokenX page, select a file to analyze from the sample file dropdown option. Each of the documents used in the archive is listed by title. Also included are corpus documents, one for each section and one composed of all the documents used (this corpus is the first listed.) After selecting a file, hit "eXecute." Then simply click "Word Cloud View" on the left-hand side of the screen to see the word cloud open in a new window. For more analysis, click the "Decontextualize and Count" link to see total word counts. To see a keyword of your choice in its immediate context, click "Keyword in context," type in the word, and hit "eXecute."
In order to analyze and highlight concepts in the documents, each source was encoded and editorialized to introduce and express opinions. Concept encoding of the digital collection identifies, highlights, and narrates ideas that may or may not receive literal mention in the texts. The conceptual themes highlighted in the documents represent those of the most significance to the argument and illustrate the editorial decisions made by the project team. Concept analysis highlights can be found in each section under the heading "Documents."
Concept highlighting analysis focuses on the written portrayals of Buffalo Bill Cody and the various Rough Rider groups. These written representations are important in understanding the Wild West as a generator and proponent of ideas of manhood and a manly image. Visitors can use concept analysis to unveil narrative elements within the documents. In browsing through the documents, visitors can develop their own understanding of the manly image and its connections to American culture, issues of race, and imperialism. In viewing a document or text, scroll over the concepts listed to unveil the highlighted sections. The documents featured in the concept analysis section concentrate on press coverage, Buffalo Bill Wild West promotional materials, and reminiscences.