(text)mapping Typhoid Mary

The inimitable David McClure came to Davidson last week to talk to students and faculty about Neatline, things DH and app development.  While speaking in Mark’s class, he introduced textplot – a neat little tool that produces a co-occurrence network of words in a text, depending on whether they occur in proximity to one another. I’m working on a Neatline map of George Soper’s account of his role in the pursuit and medical incarceration of Mary Mallon – better known as Typhoid Mary – but I hadn’t thought much about Soper’s text as a literary text – I’d been treating it much more as a spatially oriented primary source.

Here’s a first stab at running textplot over “The Curious Career…” – it’s an oddly rambling visualization because the text itself is so short, and proceeds at such a rapid clip.  Soper does not often return to a theme he has already introduced, leaving little for textplot to pick up on in terms of recurring clusters of words. However, the centrality of some words (explained, examined) are a nice visual reminder that, despite acknowledging her humanity at several points, Soper was largely approaching Mary Mallon as a medical specimen.

Hopefully a more traditional (spatial) map of Soper will follow shortly.

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