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Tech and Texts is an open seminar/workshop hosted by the University of Michigan Library to explore applied technology and theory. This semester our focus will be on text analysis. Over the course of the Fall 2017 semester we will meet every other Wednesday from 10:30am - 12:00pm to discuss, explore and experiment with various computational textual analysis technologies and theoretical texts. Meetings will be held in the Clark Library Presentation Space (2 South Hatcher).

Meetings are open to anyone at any skill level. It is not necessary to attend all meetings; please join us as you have time and interest. The text discussions will include a brief introduction to the reading. Tech explorations will be an open format for experimentation and shared learning (please bring a laptop). If you have any questions about the series you can contact Justin Joque ( or Alix Keener (

PDFs of all of the readings are available. Please register by filling out this form and we will give you access to download them. Last years schedule is available here.

Fall_2017 Schedule:

September 20th - Overviews: Bookworm and Google Ngram Viewer

HathiTrust Research Center Bookworm

Google Ngram Viewer

Zhang, Sarah. “The Pitfalls of Using Google Ngram to Study Language,” Wired October 12, 2015.

October 4th - Introductions to Text Analysis

Best, Stephen, and Sharon Marcus. “Surface reading: An introduction.” Representations 108, no. 1 (2009): 1-21.

Moretti, Franco. “Conjectures on world literature.” New Left Review 1 (2000): 54.

Selection from: Žižek, Slavoj. The sublime object of ideology. Verso, 1989: 3-16.

October 18th - Digging into texts: Voyant and AntConc

Voyant (review documentation)

AntConc (download prior to session and review help page)

November 1st - Macroanalysis and Topic Modeling

Goldstone, Andrew, and Ted Underwood. “The quiet transformations of literary studies: What thirteen thousand scholars could tell us.” New Literary History 45, no. 3 (2014): 359-384.

Rhody, Lisa Marie. “Why I Dig: Feminist Approaches to Text Analysis.” Debates in the Digital Humanities.

Starosielski, Nicole. “Orientation:“Man and His Tool, Again?”.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 9, no. 2 (2015).

November 15th - MALLET (MAchine Learning for LanguagE Toolkit)

MALLET (download and review tutorial slides)

November 29th - A Case Study in Neo-structuralism

Derrida, Jacques. “Structure, sign, and play in the discourse of the human sciences.” A postmodern reader (1993): 223-242.

In 2015, Matt Jockers released an R package, syuzhet, for sentiment analysis and plot detection. The links below outline the project and some back and forth between him and Annie Swafford who offers a nuanced technological critique of the work. The comments on some of these are worth reading as well:

December 13th - Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK) and Stanford Natural Language Processing Group’s Named Entity Recognizer (NER)

NLTK (install [make sure you have python installed as well] and browse Natural Language Processing with Python) Stanford NER (download or explore the online demo)