Quiet Transformations: A Topic Model of Literary Studies Journals
This site accompanies Andrew Goldstone and Ted Underwood’s essay, “The Quiet Transformations of Literary Studies: What Thirteen Thousand Scholars Could Tell Us” (New Literary History 45, no. 3 [Summer 2014]). That essay refers to a probabilistic topic model of seven literary studies journals. This site offers an interface for exploring the model further. A topic model is a novel form of evidence for literary history; exploration is, we think, a good way to develop a sense for what kind of evidence it is and what sort of interpretation it permits.
Using this site
This topic model is created by using MALLET to divide 21367 articles from seven literary studies journals over the 1889–2013 period into 150 “topics.” A topic is a family of words that tend to occur together: these patterns may indicate themes, rhetorical frames, or other dimensions of discourse. We label topics with an (arbitrary) number together with the words that the algorithm has identified as most frequent in the topic: for example, 80 power violence fear blood. Click on Overview above to see all the topics at a glance. In addition to a list of topics, there is also a grid in which each topic is represented by a circle and a streamgraph giving a rough view of the shifting topic make-up of the whole corpus over time in this model.
Anywhere on this site, you can click on any topic to see the page devoted to that particular topic. You can also choose from the Topic menu above. On a topic page, you see a list of the most prominent words in the topic together with their weights in the topic; a plot of the proportion of words in the corpus assigned to the topic over time; and a list of the articles containing the highest proportion of that topic. To see a list of prominent articles limited to a particular year, click that year’s corresponding bar on the plot.
The individual words are clickable, and they take you to the page devoted to a word. Thus, the page for power shows that power is prominent in multiple topics: this display uses vertical bars to indicate the relative prominence of words in the various topics. Click on another word to refocus on that word, or use the search box. Only words that are relatively prominent in at least one topic are accessible here. The Word Index lists all such words.
Individual articles listed on the topic pages are also clickable links. These take you to the page focusing on an article. Each article contains a mixture of topics: in fact, each word in each article is assigned a topic by the algorithm. The article page thus indicates which topics are in the mixture. Click on the topic names to return to the corresponding topic pages.
The Bibliography lists every single article we included in the model. This page may take some time to load. Use the menu to choose a listing order. Click on any title to see the article page. The journals from which we have included articles are: Critical Inquiry (1974–2013), ELH (1934–2013), Modern Language Review (1905–2013), Modern Philology (1903–2013), New Literary History (1969–2012), PMLA (1889–2007), and the Review of English Studies (1925–2012). The data are supplied by JSTOR Data for Research.
Figures from the essay
Explore at will! If you’d like to follow the lines of our essay, however, some, though not all, of the figures from the essay have interactive counterparts on this site:
- Topic 80 power violence fear blood over time (figure 2)
- The word power in various topics (compare to figure 3)
- Topic 16 criticism work critical theory over time (compare to figure 4)
- Theory topics (figure 5): 94 literary literature new work, 20 reading text reader read, 39 interpretation meaning text theory , and 143 new cultural culture theory.
Topics on the rise in the last three decades (figure 7):
- Compare the list of topics sorted by year of highest peak, and, in particular:
- 143 new cultural culture theory
- 15 history historical new modern
- 58 social work form own
- 138 social society public class
- 69 world european national colonial
- 19 see new media information
- 25 political politics state revolution
- 77 human moral own world
- 48 human science social scientific
- 36 economic money value labor
- 4 law legal justice rights
- 102 feeling emotional moral pleasure
- 108 violence trial crime memory
Due to software limitations, the remaining figures are not available here. However, the R code we used in creating and analyzing the topic model itself is available as a github repository. The model outputs themselves may be downloaded from Rutgers's RUCore repository.
Referring to pages on this site
To cite this website as a whole:
Goldstone, Andrew, and Ted Underwood. Quiet Transformations: A Topic Model of Literary Studies Journals. http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~ag978/quiet. 2014.
Each particular view of the model has a distinct URL, which you can copy from your web browser’s location bar. For example, the page specific to topic 16 criticism work critical theory is available at http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~ag978/quiet/#/topic/16.
For our own analysis of this topic model, please refer to (and cite):
Goldstone, Andrew, and Ted Underwood. “The Quiet Transformations of Literary Studies: What Thirteen Thousand Scholars Could Tell Us.” New Literary History 45, no. 3 (Summer 2014): 359–84.
The model itself (in the form of MALLET outputs and associated metadata) may be accessed, and cited, via doi:10.7282/T35B00V9.
This site is based on dfr-browser by Andrew Goldstone. It uses d3.js by Mike Bostock, Bootstrap by Twitter, Inc., JQuery by the JQuery Foundation and JSZip by Stuart Knightley. Maintenance updates and corrections to the site are noted in the change log.
Use these controls to adjust how much information is displayed on some of the browser pages.
Select a topic from the "Topic" menu above.
Yearly proportion of words in topic
Click a bar to limit article to that year
There are no articles containing this topic.
tokens. (view on JSTOR)
Prominent topics for
Click row labels to go to the topic view; click a word to show the topic list for that word.
All words prominent in any topic
Words not prominent in any topic are not listed