17.804 pedagogical use of text-analysis tools

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Fri May 07 2004 - 16:55:37 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 804.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

             Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2004 07:19:15 +0100
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: Re: 17.744 MonoConc (Pro), with thoughts on teaching


    I want to pick up the thread of learning objectives and the
    pedagogical use of tools for textual analysis. I think your comments on
    MonoConc relate to a blog entry by Matt Kirschenbaum about the exercise
    set by Douglas Hofstadter in the early pages of Godel, Escher, Bach.

    Matt invites readers to consider why Hofstadter introduces his
    discussion of the Mechanical, Intelligent, and Unmode with what can turn
    out to be a frustrataing exercise. That invitation raises similar
    questions about the value of learning by doing that your MonoConc example

    For some reason, the example put forward by Matt and your example have me
    wondering if certain teachers complement the exploration of the
    application with the exploration of the objects of study. Does anyone
    teaching humanities computing set up exercises along the following lines?

    Present a class with a given distribution and then invite students to
    discover if the given distribution is replicated in an analysis of
    different versions of a text. Repeat the exercise with one set of students
    introducing a typo in one version (or altering it in some form); another
    group of students is assigned the task of determining if the comparative
    analysis picks up the change. Repeat with the student groups switching

    > Date: Sun, 28 Mar 2004 08:59:01 +0100
    > From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>

    > MonoConc is very easy to learn -- as I said, 5 to 10 minutes is all that's
    > required. The students I've had tend to come to humanities computing
    > believing that it's about pushing buttons. So I've tried to rush them past
    > the push-button interface to problems of interpretation. The more
    > sophisticated-in-features this interface is, the harder that is to do, the
    > more they take what they see as a harder problem of the kind they've mostly
    > already mastered rather than a new sort of problem entirely.

    Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large

    Wondering if...

    mnemonic is to analytic as mimetic is to synthetic

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