Final Project: Topic Modeling Enslavement Narratives

I really enjoyed dabbling with MALLET this semester. To be completely honest, I may have bitten off more than I could chew – especially once Python slithered into the mix. While I learned much, I mostly realized that I still have so much to learn. Even with the most basic technical grasp, though, MALLET can be useful as a brainstorming tool in the early stages of a research project.

If I could restart this project from the beginning, I would narrow my scope considerably and focus on familiarizing myself with existing scholarship. There is so much cool research being done with MALLET and with enslavement narratives, and I have only begun to breach the surface. In terms of my technical understanding, I’m sure that reading more MALLET studies would have answered many of my questions. And regarding the history of slavery, I can only ever keep learning and growing. I ultimately would have benefitted from spending more time with that scholarship, and less time trying to revive my programming skills.

That said, I loved being able to write code for a history class. It was simple code, and it took me far, far longer than it should have, but I enjoyed every minute of it. While my history project may have been better off with more historiography and less technical practice, having up-to-date programming skills can only ever be a good thing in the long run.

My poster is presented below, and relevant files (including my final paper) have been uploaded to my GitHub. I look forward to continuing my work on this research in the future.

Presentation Poster for “Topic Modeling Enslavement Narratives”

– Jessica Shainker

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