Project Proposal – Print

For my print project, I wanted to propose something that could help me as I’m applying to graduate schools for Egyptology, so I knew from the start that I wanted my focus to be Egyptological in nature. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to focus on ancient historical representation in its entirety, or Egypt specifically. I came to the conclusion that my heart always has and always will belong to Egypt, so why not start there.

For this project, I wanted to trace the representation of Ancient Egypt in popular video games. Egyptomania began in 1922 when Howard Carter discovered the elaborate tomb of Pharoah Tutankhamun (born Tutankhaten) and popular culture quickly ran away with the design and aesthetic of the ancient civilization. Mummies, tombs, and Cleopatra quickly became frequent occurrences in cinema, and the fashion of the 20s turned toward Egyptian styles.

1920s Egyptian fashion (the beaded collar, the fan shaped like an ancient handheld mirror, the gilded sandals, and the armbands)

Fast forward to the present day when video game culture has exploded. People have not deviated far from their interests, and Ancient Egypt is still heavily represented in some way shape, or form in video games. My project is going to focus on how reliably these games present the Egyptian mythos and see if I can track, perhaps, where a decision was made to remove the true mythos for the sake of the game, or because of a fallacy in knowledge made by the game developers who didn’t think to do their extra research.

I’ve already extensively played a good portion of games that possess some sort of Egyptian mythos (Assassins Creed: Origins, Sphynx and the Cursed Mummy, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, League of Legends, Smite, Civilization, etc.) but I wish to compare more modern titles with games that came out in the 70s and 80s (Imhotep or Sands of Egypt) to see if there is any reliable shift in how the mythos is presented and how factual it is. People have blown Ancient Egypt out of proportion for the sake of media consumption over the past few decades, and many sources present their version of Egypt in a believable way (such as Wilbur Smith’s River God) that could potentially lead the public astray in their knowledge. My main argument for this project will be a need for proper representation of ancient civilizations in video games because, whether people like it or not, video games are an extremely valid method of learning for children. Being able to explore pyramids in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, for example, allowed me to introduce my roommate to Sneferu, Imhotep the architect (not the god version people present him as so often), and Djoser, two Pharaohs that people overlook when discussing the narrative of early pyramid building in ancient Egypt.

Hopefully, this project can discover the thread that ties public consumption of ancient history together, and I hope that, at the end of it, there’s an upward trend in a reliable, truthful narrative being told. I might utilize software like Voyant to scan through transcripts of the game looking for keywords like Pharaoh names, places, and the names of gods, but most of this research will rely heavily on physically interacting with the pieces I am studying as well as parsing through community response to the game and its popularity on the market (i.e. Assassin’s Creed: Origins is still well-rated and popular while Sphynx and the Cursed Mummy was a PS2 cult classic that, even after returning to the Nintendo Switch, has all but left modern memory).

-Bailey Murray

Practicum: Voyant Tools

What is Voyant?

Voyant is a text analysis tool that allows a user to interact with the text at a more molecular level. It has an easy-to-use format that invites audiences of all types (professional scholars to students) to study and interpret a text in a different way.

Getting Started

There are three different ways to interact with Voyant. Upon first entering the site, users are greeted with a simple text box where they can copy and paste their text. Scholars may also choose to either interact with an already analyzed source (many Classics such as Shakespeare or Jane Austin are available to open) or upload their own from dcouments on their PC. For my example analysis, I copy and pasted the link to each chapter of D’Ignazio and Klein’s Data Feminism into the text box.

This is the base dashboard that will display every time a new corpus is created. Users can change and interact with the data from here.

The dashboard is highly customizable and offers a wide array of analytical tools from a word cloud to a scatter plot to the bottom right-hand corner where it took the most frequent word (data) and displays the context for every time the word appears. Users can choose from other options such as a word tree, “terms berry,” mandala, or correlations to name a few. By clicking on a specific word in the word cloud, for example, the text in the middle highlights all the usage of that word within the document for easy finding.

Interacting with the data

Voyant allows users to group words into defined categories. The default categories are “positive,” which is all the words that possess positive connotations (enjoy, confidence, superior), and “negative,” which is words that possess negative connotations (depression, suffer, sad). By clicking the “define options for this tool” switch at the top righthand corner of the Cirrus, users can edit the words they deem most important and define new categories and parameters for their text (see below).

There is also an option in the top right-hand corner to click “Features” where you can choose a colour for each category. Once everything is saved, the word cloud should change from its original, random color (see the second picture on this post), to a word cloud categorized by defined colours (see below). For reference, I made “positive” words red, “negative” words blue, “uncategorized” words tan, “people” words purple, and “city” words green.


There is no shortage of possibilities with Voyant as the browser-based tool offers multiple analytical options that range from simple word association to intricate spider webs of interlinked, repeated themes. To change the display to one of the 27 other options, there is a symbol that looks like the Microsoft logo in the upper right-hand corner by the “Options” switch that I discussed earlier.

A summary of the corpus in its entirety featuring average words, readability, vocab density, and length by document; as well as distinctive words that were prominent in their given chapter, but not the corpus as a whole.
“Terms Berry” associates a word with the frequency of contextual phrases.
“Dreamscape” where, if a user hovers over a dot, they can see where the location / associated word appears in the text and why it was placed at that specific spot on the map.
“Links” takes highly repeated words and displays how they are attached to other highly repeated words.

Help and Support

It’s important to note the level of user assistance that Voyant offers. Their site is easy to get started with, but there is a myriad of options and features that might go overlooked without a user’s due diligence or assistance from the source. Voyant’s help page is an extremely in-depth step-by-step guide to every feature that the browser offers. There are pictures, examples, and separate categories for every feature to allow for ease of access to the help as well as a streamlined appearance.

Voyant Support

Introduction – Bailey Murray

Hello! I’m Bailey Murray and I’m a second-year student in the general History MA at American University. Originally I’m from Raleigh, North Carolina and I received my undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Surprisingly enough, my Bachelor’s is in Child Psychology and it wasn’t until a lengthy trip around Europe and Egypt that I decided that History was my real passion. While American University is not the Egyptology and Education degree I soon hope to pursue, it has been an important stepping stone on my ultimate journey as I have gained connections as well as a proper introduction to the Historical field that I missed out on with my science-based undergraduate degree.

Digital history is a subject that I have until now, placed on the back burner because I was blind to the possibilities that were staring me in the face. Simply signing up for a digital history class has allowed me insight into the potential of the digital age and how it affects the way we interact with history. Personally, one of my biggest hobbies is playing video games, and my favourite genre is any game that involves historical fiction – such as Assassins Creed: Origins which is set during Ptolemaic Egypt. Naturally, that means I’m most excited for the part in our class where we discuss gaming, but, as I’ve perused the syllabus several times now, I am also eager to expand my capabilities with resources that may come in handy in a classroom setting to keep students engaged and learning.

Beyond traveling to Egypt in 2019, I haven’t actually done very much in the historical field that doesn’t resemble tourism. I hope that American is the catalyst I needed to begin my time in the historical field and I am eager to see what the future holds! I suppose a bit more about me as a person before I sign off since we will be getting closer as a class over the semester. I love to play games as I said earlier and I believe my project proposal will have something to do with such though I haven’t pinned down my exact topic. I am also an avid reader (I am currently reading Moses and Monotheism by Sigmund Freud), I adore DnD and other roleplaying games, and my secret talent is hand embroidery though I dream of the day I can buy myself a machine to do it for me.