English 495 Blog

Hanley Town

Twine Reflection

Ultimately I thought the Twine project went quite well, and that I learned about a very useful tool for creating stories in the future. Aside from Twine, taking short stories that I knew about and breaking them down into narrative elements that I could then construct turned out to be a pretty fun experience. I like writing short stories on my own time, and tackling some of the more famous examples ended up being a pretty interesting way to scratch that creative itch. CyberDuck however was a HUGE pain, even after several tutorials I still couldn’t really understand what I was doing wrong in publishing.

One of the more interesting passages in my story in my opinion is that of Plot. When the protagonist is watching the old man in his sleep, still wavering on whether or not he wishes to commit to murdering him. In my version of Tell-Tale heart, my protagonist isn’t deluded about his own paranoia, unlike Poe’s protagonist. However his fear is still so strong that it drives him to murder the old man, while simultaneously being wracked with guilt about what he perceives to be a unprovoked murder. This scene in particular I think encapsulates a lot of his doubt, he realizes how insane the actions he’s carrying out are, and one of the choices allows him to return to the beginning, only to suffer horrible dreams.  My character is truly stuck, without murdering the old man he is in fact trapped in this endless loop of dreams and torment and delusion. I also really liked the image of the man looking through the keyhole, so scared of getting caught that he’s staring through a tiny opening into a pitch black room.

Throughout my twine story I learned about many annoying nuances of twines code. In fact, looking up multiple avenues of image encoding and video encoding, I was tempted to just go back and use an older version of twine, which allowed you to easily embed code and images as opposed to uploading entire folders. That being said, the format for the newer twine is a bit more user friendly so it’s really a tossup as to which one you want to use. If I was going to use this to make an even more image heavy story, I might go and use Twine version 1 instead.

Ultimately I think this was a pretty fun project, especially because I myself am very interested in interactive stories. Using Twine, I actually created an interactive story for my girlfriend for her birthday that she loved. Twine gave me a very convenient way to do that, So I’m grateful that this class introduced me to it.

Attached is the link to my completed twine story of Tell-Tale Heart.

Telltale Heart

Distant Reading Report

For my corpus analysis, I decided to use an extremely comprehensive collection of William Wordsworth’s poetry and books. Wordsworth was a prolific writer and poet. His juxtaposition between nature and happiness has always been interesting to me, and I thought understanding more about the core diction and word use might really help me break down the general direction of his works. Throughout much of my english creature, I’ve focused mostly on feeling and word arrangement, not something as mechanical as word amount and word variety. Analyzing a highly emotional work from a detached lens can add a new depth to it.

Most of the text was pulled directly from Gutenberg. I pulled together several collections of poetry and short stories, focusing exclusively on the stories themselves. Wordsworth actually loved to comment on his own stories, and for the purpose of this assignment that wasn’t necessary, so I removed most if not all of his afterwords on his own works. I also of course removed all Gutenberg anecdotes and wishwash. After doing that, I saved the raw text to a word document on my computer, and then used that for Voyant.

For my first use of Voyant, I decided to focus exclusively on Wordsworth use of nature in conjunction with my emotions. My question was specifically regarding the dominant emotion used in conjunction with his nature motifs (a highly common theme in his works), and came up with Man, Day, Life, and Time showing up more then 1200 times throughout the corpus. Just based on these four words, I decided to slightly adjust my question to regard mortality and the passage of time in regards to human life. To further delve into that question, I decided to then search for instances of death, night, and mortality.

My first research actually gave me a rather interesting conclusion. First of all, one of my searchable keywords had no matches. Death didn’t show up even a single time. I decided to tweak the search to then include all variants of death such as dying, dead, and other similar words. This returned a modest 500 when compared to the almost 1300 matches of Life, not even counting words similar to life like I did with death. Night on the other hand did show up 700 times, but Day still outnumbered it by more than twice as many instances at 1500. This led me to take a rather different approach. Deciding that I was focusing too much on physical aspects, I decided to instead focus on negative and positive emotions rather then negative and positive emotional states. Rather then correlating positive imagery with negative imagery, I would see if Wordsworth had correlated positive imagery with positive emotions and vice versa.

My next search showed that like had over 1700 matches, with love having almost 1200, tied nearly with heart. So far our positive emotions just about match the positive symbols in terms of recurrence in the corpus, so I then decided to try negative opposites.

Surprisingly, the opposite of love, hatred, once again has a staggering 0 matches in the corpus. I decided to try variants of hatred, hoping that perhaps I’d give a number equivalent to my similar variants of death, and return with a measly 30 matches. Dislike also fizzled out, its variants only returning 38 times. This really shocked me, because while Wordsworth has been known to juxtaposition life and death using nature, his use of emotional words doesn’t necessarily reflect that same juxtaposition. That being said, I thought this was a fascinating insight into the way Wordsworth works. The fact that he manages to instill such feelings without explicitly using words that depict them really lends credit to the subtle nature of his works, as well as the fact that he really goes out of his way to avoid simple variations of words when writing.

Ngram gave me another insightful look into the way Wordsworth writes, by seeing correlations into my word pool. Using Ngram, I searched for instances of nature, love, death, hatred, hate, dislike, and life over 200 years in all books registered on Google. What shocked me is how rarely hatred and its variants, as well as dislike, actually show up in literature! They were both easily the bottom of the search, being eclipsed by the other words in my searches by anywhere from 20 to 50 times! When we consider love occurring 40 times more often than hatred in Wordsworth’s corpus, it seems to point out that strong negative emotions are just not that common in writing over all. This was quite a shock to me, I was expecting it to be lower then positive equivalents, but I expected it to be somewhat of a close race. The astronomically different occurrences really had me rethink my conclusions through voyant, perhaps Wordsworth wasn’t as subtle as I previously believed? His usage of negative emotional words aren’t actually that obscure when compared to a vast number of other works of fiction.

Ultimately, I learned some conflicting information about my corpus. Predictably, positive emotions and romantic associations are much more common than their negative counterparts. When considering the progression of stories, generally negative states are the height of conflict and therefore more rare. That being said, I didn’t expect such an insane disparity between them. I was expecting the negative counterparts of words such as like or love or happy to have at least a third of occurrences, but ultimately negative emotions are vastly eclipsed. That being said, I did find this a fascinating experience that really upended my own basic perceptions and biases in regard to literature. Being able to crack down on raw data can really help us understand the general direction and tone of works, and lets us approach a work that we might define by “feeling” more mechanically, adding layers of depth that wouldn’t be available without the tools today. Ultimately, I’d say to a text analysis newbie to come into the experience with a strong expectation. Using tools like voyant or ngrams are much more meaningful when they blow your preconceived notions out of the water. Going into it not expecting or knowing anything about the corpus would really lower the amount of contrast you’re getting, so a basic understanding of your corpus and prior knowledge are a must in my opinion. Ultimately I believe this is a very valuable tool to extract a different feeling from a in depth corpus.

Voyant Second Attempt

This time I used a much larger collection of Wordsworth’s Works, including novels and all poetry. Of particular note to me was 4 of the more significant words appearing, Man, Day, Life, and Time. With over 1200 instances of each word reoccurring through Wordsworth’s art, With these four words, I can guess at a recurrent theme in Wordsworth stories, that of mortality, and subsequently death. So I decided to focus on the opposites of these words, Death, Night, and mortality.
Now, to my extreme shock, the word death does not show up a single time in this extremely expansive corpus! But upon quickly revamping my search to show dying, dead, and other similar words, I returned with just shy of 500 matches, when considering all forms of that word. Night on the other hand had 700 matches in the corpus, which means that both words are vastly outnumbered by their counterparts. So while Wordsworth poetry seems to indicate a duality between these two themes, the amount of times it shows up does not necessarily reflect that. But perhaps I’m focusing too much on the life aspect of it, we can also take a look at emotional traits.
Like is the most common word in the corpus with over 1700 instances, with love having almost 1200. Heart is also nearing 1200, and generally we can see a correlation between love and nature, and romance. Wordsworth has been known for his duality, and so perhaps we might find a similar result with the opposites of love and like.
Surprisingly, hatred has 0 matches in the corpus! Variants of hate on the other hand only show up with a measly 30 matches, dislike and its variants also only returning 38 matches. This is staggering pitiful against the huge influx of romantic words! So while Wordsworth seems to juxtaposition nature, life and death, it would seem he doesn’t necessarily do the same with love and its opposites. Ultimately, Voyant gave me a very fascinating look into Wordsworth’s writing mindset. Also his ability to just not use certain words like death, in a man who writes hundreds of poems is certainly impressive. It seems he has a very refined diction. With a one million and five hundred thousand word corpus, he only uses 34000 unique words! That’s actually surprisingly small considering.

Voyant and Wordsworth Lyrical Ballads

For my voyant analysis I worked on worked on William Wordsworth collection of Poems “Lyrical Ballads”, and decided to analyse his usage of nature and natural elements. That being said, I was very surprised to find that the most recurring words were names! In a collection of poetry, this was shocking to me, but actually clued me in to how Wordsworth will repetitively state the same detail noun or name multiple times throughout a poem. That being said, it didn’t exactly mesh with the rest of the corpus, so I decided to focus on a few key words.

On my second run through I decided to really zero in on the words depicting nature and feeling. Words like sad, happy, glad, sun, day, night, moon, etc. Now, wordsworth poems tend to zero in on the earlier hours of day over that of night. Words like sun, bright, and early showed up twice as much or more consistently in poems then their counterparts moon, dark, and late. That being said, words associated or connotated with negative emotions showed up much more then positive variants, such as fear, sadness, despair, etc. This was a fairly fascinating phenomena for me, while Wordsworth fixated much more on the earlier times of day and brighter colors, his observations of said nature was remarkably depressed in feeling.

Having noted this, I decided to focus around the words surrounding negative emotions, and likewise the words surrounding positive ones. “Sad Case” was an oft repeated phrase, as well as “how sad.” These are more phrases used to describe an event, rather then adjectively or descriptively. On the other hand, Wordsworth positive adjectives and descriptory words were used in direct connection with nature, he might describe an “refreshing meadow” or a “glade filled with happiness.” A certain trend seems to develop in Wordsworth’s works, he describes nature as happy, and then his fundamental analysis of it turns out to be depressing.

This trend is fairly consistent along Wordsworth’s poems, he tends to repeatedly begin with a straightforward description of what he is observing, followed by negative emotions and darker elements of nature. The blatantly negative emotions such as sadness, anger, or depression were the most repeated, but there’s also less extreme descriptions of listlessness, anxiety, and restlessness. Ultimately Wordsworth usually ends his poems somewhat optimistically and begins them with colorful descriptions of nature. I wasn’t aware of how much the beginning and the end influenced my thought process, because before analyzing these with voyant I would have said the general connotation of his poems are generally happier. But through Voyant I was able to extract a much more consistent, darker tone that ultimately contradicts my initial observation of Wordsworth.

Fall of The House of Usher Voyant

My question in regards to this short story was in regards to the supernatural elements. Rather why Poe seems to inject a mythic element into the story at the end with the collapsing home and the ghostly nature of Usher’s sister. Voyant actually gave me a deep insight into the narrators train of thought through the repetition of words he was using. Words like “walls”, “ghastly” and “countenance” seemed to relay a man trapped inside a horrific enclosure. And yet it’s hard to say that the man was constantly in fear after reading the novel, instead some of they key words were the mans constant referral to “character”, “eyes”, and “face”. In fact, if you look at the majority of the words that are repeated, they are often either hints of a persons emotional state or some sort of strong feeling that is felt upon observing something. The narrator is constantly describing and observing his environment, almost with a sense of neurosis. As Usher begins to break down, his observations become more and more erratic because he is in turn viewing an erratic individual. Certain trends become more pronounced near the end of the story, the narrator focusing more on his own paranoia and fear, the words “heard”, “frightened”, and “nervous” being much more prevalent. I believe the supernatural elements of the story were in fact a combination of both the neuroses of Usher AND the narrator, the destruction of the house being a manifestion of the narrators sensibilities. Voyant was helpful in this, because while I noticed that the narrator was very descriptive by nature, I didn’t realize just how focused he was on almost neurotically analyzing and examining his environment. It almost seems to imply a form of OCD exasperated by the stress of his situation, which certainly adds a different spin to the short story since it appeared to be solely about Usher’s mental illness. Ultimately I can see how Voyant would be very helpful in breaking down stories, this sort of mathematical quantifying of terms and words can help find trends and patterns that might not be recognized otherwise.

Potential Wikipedia Articles/Edits

Video Games as an art form is a page I stumbled upon recently. I’m particularly interested in the topic because I am an avid gamer, and I’ve come to really appreciate the story offered by RPG’s or even simpler moralistic narratives within shooting games or other genres. While there is already existing information, much of it is before 2013, with the vast majority of articles being cited before 2009. Considering the evolution of gaming in only 6 years let alone 10, I believe that the article can be updated to accommodate that time span. I’ll probably try to look into some VR games that offer a very optical experience, as well as magazines and gaming websites.

I was also interested in editing the Mystery Spot location in Santa Cruz. This is a tourist attraction in Santa Cruz that features some psychological tricks and weird phenomena with gravity/leaning and center of mass. However all I saw on the page were opinions bashing the idea that it was anything more then a psychological trick. I was curious to see if there were any other papers or articles that gave any credence to there being some sort of scientific phenomena there.

A completely nonexistence article that I think would be interesting is the play el corrido de Jesus Pelado Rasquachi. This is a play about somewhat mythical figure of a Mexican migrant who suffers many symbolic and literal dangers as he attempts to make it in America. Ultimately I think that considering the current climate makes this an article worth considering, and also as a play I can probably find reviews and sources that go deep into motivations and history of the story in order to make a comprehensive Wikipedia article.

Intro to Dane

Hi anyone’s who’s reading this (I’m assuming mostly classmates who are literally being forced to), I’m Dane Howard. This is my last semester at SFSU for an English Lit major, and I’m taking this class as one of the three electives I need to finally graduate and get out of the soul crushing grind that is the commute to school. Pleasure to make your acquaintance, and hopefully I never see any of you again after this class because it will mean that I’m still in San Francisco for some reason.

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