Voyant Blog Post

The research question I chose was, “Explain the Slaveholder controlled, religious experience and its effects on slaves in the 1800’s”.  I choose the “North American Slave Narratives” database to find potential documents that would aid in answering this question.  The first document that I decided to upload to Voyant was a narrative from Charles Emery Stevens.  Upon uploading the document I was able to view the key words and by looking specifically at the “slave” word I was able to view potential research for my question.  The document details specific information about the religious experience for slaves in America and gives insight into the kinds of rules and restrictions slaveholders put on practicing religion among the enslaved.  Personal slave accounts of the religious experience will help to answer the main research question through provider first hand information.  The second document that I decided to upload to Voyant was a narrative by Henry Watson.  This narrative also gave me insight into perhaps a more personal depiction of the nature of religion among slaves and slaveholder.  This document mentions the spirit of slaves and the mentality of slaveholders to break down such spirits.  This is an interesting insight into my research question and provides specific points to expand the overarching idea of slaves mentality about slaveholder controller religious experience.   Within, Voyant l was able to look at one of the main keywords, “Master” I was able to see specific insight on the slaveholder relation to slaves and religion.  I found the Voyant tool to be overall a very easy to use and useful website.  I feel like this site has the potential to make researching very broad topics rather easy.  Relying fully on this website/tool could be potentially problematic as it really only searches for keywords and there are some sources that may not have an abundance of specific keywords but are still  useful to one’s research.  Overall it is a great starting point for research and really makes the entire process less stressful.  

One thought on “Voyant Blog Post

  1. I really appreciate the amount of details you provided in describing your research experience and using Voyant for text analysis. I think it is clear from your experience that practicing both a “close reading” of your documents in addition to the “distant reading” of text analysis enabled you to gain a more complete understanding of these sources and how to approach your research question. Knowing that the documents DID pertain to religious experiences, you were able to approach Voyant more broadly to see the prevalence of terms like “master,” “slave,” “state,” and “law” within that context. I am glad that you found this tool useful, but also acknowledged some of the limitations of text analysis. Thank you for sharing your research process and thoughts about this subject!

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