Discourse Analysis and Text Messages: Part 2

Now that you’ve gathered your data and discussed your findings in class, it’s time to use the article as a frame for drawing conclusions about your data. Use the article as a model for structure as well as tone, including:

  • Grounding in the current conversation about texting
  • Methods you used to gather data (be specific–what did you do)
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References page
  • Include data set, coding, etc. as appendix. Remove identifying information.

Please submit this essay as a Google Doc, Your essay is due by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, November 24. Please email me a link with editing access when it is complete.

Peer Review Guidelines

1. Talk through the project.

2. What does this have to do with digital writing/digital humanities?

3. What’s working?

4. What’s not working?

5. What questions do you have? Information you crave?

6. What else are you wondering about–what else could be included to improve the project?

7. Do you understand what the product’s purpose is?

After critique, create a plan of action for completing the project.

Discourse Analysis and Text Messages: Part 1

This project will be worth 75 of the TBD points.

The purpose of this mini-discourse analysis is to wrestle with the following questions:

1. What’s the main purpose for which people use texts? Look for frequency of use of key words and/or phrases.

2. How does relationship with recipient change the register/language? Attend to word use, use of emoticons, compressing words [text spelling], and punctuation.

3. How does the length of the text conversation reflect life style and attention span? Examine frequency, who initiates conversation, number of words used by each person, number of texts in each conversation, times conversations occur, and time between responses.

After reading this article, and with our class discussion in mind, select text streams with three different individuals:

  • A person of authority (parent, supervisor, professor)
  • A good friend
  • A romantic partner or a person of differing gender than your good friend

Set parameters–will you examine the last 50 texts exchanged or the texts exchanged over the last week/month/your choice.

Either type out the texts AS THEY APPEAR (don’t correct them!!) or take screen shots and print them out.

Gather your data based on the above questions. Count, track, articulate your findings on paper.

On Monday, November 17th, we’ll aim to make something of this data and to write up our findings.


Spell Check with Harry Potter

Our timeline project shows very distinct first or characteristically known spells conducted by six of the main characters in the Harry Potter series. Each character shows personal growth, whether from a place of righteousness as Harry Potter, a place of uncertainty between light and dark such as Draco Malfoy, or just a journey into the unrelenting shadows of dark magic. These notable  or first use of spells helps to further develop each of the characters as one of the subtle things J.K. Rowling includes in her series. Along with these spells are the etymology of names that place a subtle baseline for each of the characters destinies. For example, Draco Malfoy as we discovered means “Bad Dragon” which can show that as a stereotype all dragons are seen as bad  or malicious, but as the series progresses he is “tamed” in a sense and turns more towards the light as he sees the more evil nature of Voldemort and his followers. By taking all of these names and spells and placing them into one timeline, it further shows the transformations of each character in this one aspect of the series. It can lead more fans to discover more simple parts of the books that lead to the ultimate ending of the series, and how and why all the characters ended up the way they did.

Throughout this project, we searched for etymologies of names and spells from various sources. The Harry Potter Wiki was a great site as well to use as it provided a grand central station of Harry Potter facts and lore written by other fans just like us. This site includes information from plot, to characters, to locations, to simple themes that were held throughout the book.

This project can be seen as a stepping stone in discovering various themes within the Harry Potter book series, as we only managed to stumble onto one part. There are many different aspects of Harry Potter that have lead to character and plot development that could also be visualized and theorized in a similar manner. By showing evidence of these simple aspects, we have shown that there is more to these books than what just shows on the surface. 

Screen shot 2014-10-29 at 2.20.27 PMStated to be Rowling’s favorite name for a boy, the name “Harry” comes from the Anglo-Saxon for “power.” A “potter’s field” refers to a community’s cemetery where the unwanted or unclaimed are buried, suggesting an orphan community. Although Harry uses magic intermittently throughout his childhood, the first spell he uses as a self-aware wizard is “wingardium leviosa” in The Sorcerer’s Stone. From Harry Potter Wiki: “Wingardium is a composite word, based on: English to wing meaning “to fly” ; arduus (meaning “high, tall, loharry wandfty, steep, proudly elevated”) or arduum (meaning “steep place, the steep”); and the common Latin ending -ium. Leviosa probably derives from Latin levo, meaning to “raise, lift up”, or levis, meaning light (of weight). Altogether,therefore, the incantation could best be read as “lift up high”.”

The significance of this being Harry Potter’s first spell is symbolic of his journey from muggle life to wizarding world. He has been lifted from a cruel and unforgiving childhood with his family into a higher, more advanced form of human interaction and being.

Rowling was inspired for the name Hermione by Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” as well as the Greek god Hermes, of wit, eloquence and quick-thinking. Her last name of Granger comes from the reference for a farm bailiff; a suggestion towards her heritage as a muggle. One of the first spells we see Hermione use in The Sorcerer’s Stone is the unknown incantation for the bluebell flames. Similar to the incendio spell, which translates to “fire,” the bluebell flames flow from a wand in a stream and lights the hermionenearby object on fire. Unlike incendio, which creates “real” fire that would register with a muggle, the bluebell flames are blue in color and eat through clothing and plants but can be contained within glass. They hold greater magical qualities than the regular flames from an incendio charm. Hermione first uses the flames to keep her, Harry and Ron warm in the courtyard.

The second use is more significant to her growth as a character. Though still in the Sorcerer’s Stone, readers see a jump in the personality of Hermione as she uses this flammable spell to distract Snape, who she believed was cursing Harry. The manipulative qualities of the bluebell flames almost foreshadow Hermione as a character throughout the entire series. Not only does she outwit many of her peers and superiors, she does it in a way that is subtle and purposeful. As we first meet Hermione, she is intelligent but obedient. As the series continues, she more than adds to her intelligence but also blossoms as a strategic practicer of witchcraft.ron wand

Different forms of Ronald come from Scandinavia and the German language, both meaning “advice” or “advisor to the prince.” His name is a complete reflection of his character as a support to Harry throughout the series, although this develops and is challenged throughout the series. Although Ron is one of the first to use “wingardium leviosa” outside of the classroom, he rarely uses any other spells until the Chamber of Secrets. Readers see Ron try to curse Draco Malfoy after he calls Hermione a mudblood, but the curse backfires and affects Ron instead. He begins to throw up slugs, which does not slow or desist. This scene and the curse generalize Ron’s plights throughout the entire series: He does all he can to help his friends, but sometimes that is not good enough. Often, Ron fails more frequently than he succeeds. He is seen as almost a mediocre character: Performs sub standardly in his classes, can only make the Quidditch team because Hermione hexes another person trying out. Ron’s laid back attitude toward responsibility is challenged by his heart and compassion for his friends.

Screen shot 2014-10-29 at 2.20.46 PMVoldemort translates to “Death Theif,” which he notably is known for the avada kedavra curse in his many years of “evil”. From our list of spells, the most notable usage of such spells are avada kedavra and crucio. The most notable Use of the crucio curse was when he was first brought back into his full body. He used the crucio curse on Harry Potter in the The Goblet of Fire, toying with him before what he thought would be the end of his enemy. He countlessly uses the killing curse without reconsideration (books 5-7), truly showing his evil nature and his willingness to cheat death by having it befall on others around him. It has not been svoldemorthown for him to have a patronus charm, as he would never need others to come protect him against the dark (which he is). In fact it can be brought up for debate that the dark mark spell may be his own form of a “patronus.” As far as other spells go, there has been evidence of using expelliarmus, but only with those that he has complete control over and is simply annoyed at their attempt to attack him, If given the chance Voldemort will use the killing curse instead, showing his primary urge for evil. Voldemort himself never uses Morsmodre, as his followers will do it for him.

Draco Malfoy’s name origin translates to “bad dragon.” He may be more of a misunderstood being when analyzing his character progression throughout the films. Dragons are dangerous creatures in the wizarding world, and may have dracoharsher temperaments than other creatures. But as it showed within the series, as Draco begins to lose touch with the evil in the wizarding world after the death of Dumbledore, not all dragons are bad forever. Some can be tamed, given the right conditions. Draco, like Voldemort, has no patronus, as he draws in the protection of his parents through the last few books of the series and was affiliated with the dark side of magic before. Draco has thrown the crucio curse around with little concern starting in as early as The Half Blood under the command of Lord Voldemort showing obedience but not total willingness to actually perform the spell out of his own will. One of his most notable spells has been the petrificus totalus spell against Harry Potter in the train. At this point in the series, they have been notable rivals, and the divide between Draco and Harry is more light than dark.  When he leaves Harry paralyzed and hidden, he is essentially leaving him to be trapped without aid. He does this without hesitation and leaves without a second word. Draco has always been seen as borderline evil. But he was never able to utter the killing curse against Dumbledore, leading Snape to commit it (as pre-arranged) himself. Does this potentially show his “good side?” This is also confirmed by how he only disarmed Dumbledore, he didnt torture him, or control him simply disarmed him. Is this Draco’s turning point? When he uses the same spell that Harry always turns to, in order to disarm than destroy?

Dumbledore’s name quite literally means the “white piercing veil with wolf power of nobility bumblebee.” Dumbledore was the general force of good in the series. He had some rough goings for a short while, yet became a strong force for good in the end. This can be shown by his patronus, a vision of cheating death. Dumbledore’s patronus is that of a phoenix, which shows the power of rebirth. Dumbledore, like Voldemort, sought a way in a sense to cheat death, although not in  the same way. He sought to cheat dumbledoredeath by controlling when it occurred, and who it would be done by. When he was younger, he sought the three items of power that would allow him to cheat death even further – though this may be seen in a more negative manner.  As well as arranging for events to occur after his death (such as Harry’s death and perhaps the granting of ownerships of the elder wand to harry), we never really hear of Dumbledore’s magic unless it was great magic, such as the waterball spell in the Ministry of Magic or the great fire wall spell done within the horcrux cave. Thus, any view of his magic we often see as being great and powerful.



About the Authors

 Maddie Cicitto and Zachary Gross are both seniors at Westfield State University. While Zachary is a psychology major, Maddie is a English major, and both are great fans of the “Harry Potter” series and this is the first time they have worked in a collaborative project of this nature. Maddie discusses the balance between loving pop culture and feminism on her blog “Babe With the Power.” . Zachary, a future therapist writes about human interactions particularly relating to smartphone usage on his blog “Dont look Down, look Up” and about daily running on his Twitter.

New Tools Looking at Old Texts: Taking a Look into Banned Books

Together we decided to look at verbal trends in the banned books that we chose using Voyant Tools. After uploading the files containing the books after finding them on the public domain, we were able to see what words were most common throughout the books and able to see the trends of these words on graphs. The graphs we focused on displayed a few common words that we felt were potentially connected to themes and shows how much it was used in each book. From here we analyzed the graphs to see if the themes we believed to be prominent in banned books existed. Some of the graphs were inconclusive. For example, some words were equally uncommon throughout the book or was really common in one but not the other and therefore does not help us look at the overall themes or ideas in the books. Although the online data analysis tool looked at more concrete words instead of general themes, it still helped provide a useful insight into similarities and differences between the pieces of literature we worked with.

Here are the ten banned books we chose to compare:

1984 by George Orwell
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Lord of the Flies by Wiliam Golding
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Origin of Species/The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
Call of the Wild by Jack London

What We Found

Taking a look at the theme of good vs evil in the ten books we have chosen, it can be seen that there is a strong correlation between the the words white, light, dark, and black, with only a couple of outliers. Although the theme of good vs evil is prevalent in all of these novels, the relevant frequencies for each isn’t that prominent. Using this data analysis tool, we can see that the theme doesn’t attribute to a book being banned, which is something that surprised us because we thought there would be more of an association between good vs evil since banned books seem to have these major conflicts against our society.

Time has one of the highest relevant frequencies in all of the banned books we chose to take a look at. Comparing it with young and old, it seems there is some relationship between the words, but the use of young and old isnít as relevant as time (with the exception of old in A Clockwork Orange). Therefore, it seems that the concept of time seems to be an important aspect of the banned books and it would be an interesting investigation to continue looking into.

After looking at the graph comparing God and violence I was surprised to see that the word God was used so much in the banned books with such a low correlation to the word violence. I expected people criticizing God or religion by matching it up against violence. I thought one reason people would ban a book would be because it was anti-religious or by showing a negative side to religion or even just lack of faith but in this graph which measured these particular words in these ten books, this was not shown. The word God was used many times in some of these banned books. This shows that there was a theme of religion or God but doesn’t show how it was applied in the books, whether religion was shown in a positive or negative light. The word violence was not used much in the books which had the word in it; most book did not have the word at all.

After analyzing the graph of religion and revolutionary it is clear that the word revolutionary was used very little in these banned books for the exception of Animal Farm. I was surprised by this because I thought that challenging the norms and values by the act or talk of revolution would be a common cause for a book to become banned. Religion on the other hand, played a bigger part in the vocabulary of the books it was in. This might have been a cause for some of these books to become banned depending how religion was talked about.

After looking at the graph of end and dark it is clear that the words end and dark are used at opposite amounts in the first five books listed. This shows that even though in the first five books that the words were used at different amounts but they were both used, meaning that even it the graph shown one word to be lower it still was used and had relevance to the book. In the first half of the graph the word end is used a lot the word dark is used lightly. But, in the second half of the books use the words changed from being used at different ends of the spectrum they were used the same amount for the same last five books. This means that probably both of these words have the same value in the books. This also hints to a correlation between the words and then possibly being used to show the same theme.

About the Authors

Shannon Grossman and Sabrina Farley are English majors with writing concentrations at Westfield State University. They are both very avid readers of literature and especially enjoy reading banned books. Shannon, a passionate traveler, writes about her experiences abroad in her blog Travels with Shnay. Sabrina loves discovering new places near or far and has chosen to focus her blog on local travel, and you can follow her adventures at Walking With Eyes Open.

#WSU331 #DigiWriMo Instagram Project

Based on our class conversation today, here’s the current shape of our DigiWriMo #WSU331 Instagram Project.

Post photographs, captions, and appropriate hashtags (always use #WSU331 and #DigiWriMo) on Instagram with the goal of creating a collaboratively written digital story about the WSU experience.

I’ll add a few parameters:

  • Each student should post at least once / week during November.
  • I’ll give you four prompts–please use the prompt for the week as inspiration for your #WSU331 #DigiWriMo post.
  • Keep the images “safe for work”.
  • Have fun.

I’ll offer 20 of the TBD points to you for your participation (5 points/per post).

Week 1 Prompt (post due by 11/8/14): What makes you feel at home in the WSU community? 

Week 2 Prompt (post due by 11/15/14): What’s challenging about life in the WSU community?

Week 3 Prompt (post due by 11/22/14): Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

Week 4 Prompt (post due by 11/29/14): What does it mean to you to be a WSU Owl? 

Homework: FaceBook Questions

photo 4 photo 3 photo 1photo 2

Better pictures of white boards have been taken, yet I hope these help you recall our conversation about “Death Proof”, FaceBook, digital writing, death, and culture.

Here are questions you suggested for your homework analysis of FaceBook (in no particular order). Please select a few, take notes, and be prepared to continue the conversation on Wednesday.

  • How would you want your online presence to be dealt with leading to and/or after your death?
  • How personal do people get FB? How easy is it to see peoples’ private information? Is FB really a efficient tool? (ETA: how do you see FB as a tool? What use does it have in contemporary culture?)
  • When looking at our news feed, of the statuses that you read, how many people have you actually been in more personal contact with, either via text, talking on the phone, FB messaging, or face to face conversation, in the past week (or maybe month)?
  • Explore Facebook  by creating a list of pros and cons to having such a public persona. Does this help or hurt one when it comes to jobs? Relationships? The real world?

Want to add a question? Leave it the comments, and we can add it to our discussion.

Digital Writing: Mapping 20 Great Fall Marathons

This collaborative project involves mapping out 20 of the best Fall marathons in the United States that runners can consider taking part in.  This project provides information about each marathon showing the readers that digital writing isn’t just strictly writing on a document, file or page.

We created an interactive map that has all the information about each marathon in one centralized place by using collaborative digital writing.  You can physically see where each marathon is located, and you can easily click on any marathon to check out the basic race facts that every runner likes to know when choosing to run a marathon.  This basic information about each marathon includes the address, start times, course time limits, interesting facts, field numbers, the month of year it’s held, and other races offered on the same day as the marathon.  From this initial information runners can quickly see if a particular marathon is the right fit before making any major decisions.  For example, if you have kids and would like to make your marathon day a family event, choosing a marathon with a kids race the same day might be more appealing.  There is also a link to each marathon’s home page, providing easy access to the rest of the information runners seek.

This project not only combines writing, mapping, and visual effects but it creates a cool project, as well. The interactive aspect of this project also makes it really fun to use.


Erica and Stacy combined their passions together to create this interactive project.  Although Stacy is not a runner herself, she finds marathons fascinating and was really interested in the idea of turning her love of writing into a mapping project by using Erica’s new passion for running marathons.

 Stacy Brunelle is a English Literature major at WSU and has a love for writing and dogs.  She shows that passion by writing a blog about her dog Kincaid and his adventures.  You can reach her through that blog: here or on twitter: here.

 Erica Flynn is a senior at WSU majoring in English Writing.  She has a slightly obsessive passion for running and has recently ventured into a whole new world of running marathons.  You can read about her love of this sport on her blog: here or follow her on twitter: here.

How to Write a Guest Post Pitch

Once you’ve invested time in the first steps to guest posting, you’re ready to write your pitch email. You’ve identified the blog, you’ve commented on it, followed the blogger on Twitter. You’ve brainstormed, mind mapped, free wrote…whatever strategy you love to get ideas out of your head on on to paper, you’ve done ’em.

What’s next? Get that pitch email written. Here are some tips:

1. Address the blogger by name: not “Dear Sir or Madam:” but “Dear Beverly,”

2. Show the blogger you’ve read their blog and connect yours to it: “I am a reader of PoMoGolightly, and I really enjoyed your recent post defining Ethical Elegance. The comments make it clear that your readers are ready to minimize their wardrobes and trade big-box shopping for shopping with indie designers. My blog XYZ explores ethical relationships with animals, including through purchasing choices.”

3. Provide samples by linking to your very best relevant posts: “Here are two posts I wrote that you might like: sample a and sample b (replace “sample a/b” with linked titles).

4. Pitch: “I would like to write a post for your readers about how I stopped buying and wearing leather shoes while remaining fashionable.”

5. Ask: “May I send the post over for your consideration? If so, please let me know if you prefer it as a Word or .txt file.”

6. Use your manners: “Thank you so much for your time”

7. Sign off, including your blog link under your name.

Unless you’re confident you can draft and revise quickly, you might want to get a rough draft of the post written. If the first blogger rejects it, you can try another, or post the piece to your site or to Medium.