Past Examples of Digital Humanities Tools (Google N-Gram and Voyant)
Using N-Gram, I chose two sets of words (“shorthand” vs. “typewritten” and “carriage” vs. “train”) to graph between the years 1877 and 1917. During the 5-year period when Dracula was published (highlighted in purple), one can clearly visualize the introduction or shift of a new trend. For example, the first graph demonstrates the popularity shorthand had in earlier years. However, at the start of 1895 an increase of the word “typewritten” alludes to the new introduction of the typewriter and its increasing popularity. Additionally, “shorthand” does steadily increase in later years, but it takes several drops during the years 1894-1898. From this one can conclude that typewriters became a dominant form of communication over written letters (specifically in shorthand) during the years when Dracula was written. Moreover, one can see that the second graph reveals the increase of the word “train” consistent with the decrease of the word “carriage”. Thus, after the transportation revolution, trains became a dominant form of travel and carriages were slowly going out of style leading up to the invention of the first automobile. The key time period for this shift was right around when Dracula was published, reiterating the enthusiasm with which Stoker included new means of transportation in his novel.
Using Voyant, it is evident that previous means of communication are changing while new forms are being developed in Dracula. For example, the word “carriage” appears throughout the novel roughly 22 times, while “train” appears 35 times. Although, carriages do appear quite frequently, they were notably associated with travelling to and from Dracula’s castle in Transylvania. Meanwhile Mina, John and friends were notably using trains as their main form of transportation to get to various parts of the country. This contrast is slight, but emphasizes the difference between new wave innovation and old-fashion conventions. Transportation is central to the meaning of the novel as characters are constantly travelling. The readers can determine the disadvantages of the various forms of travel at this time (e.g. Dracula’s slow travelling ship vs. Harker’s steam boat, Dr.Seward’s horses’ dying and slow carriage vs. fast train, etc.) Along with transportation, communication also plays a dominant role in the overall theme of the novel being that technology is crucial to how humans communicate. For example, one sees the popularity of typewriters over written letters (19 appearances vs. 10). Thus, emphasizing once again that the time-saving invention of the typewriter was better suited for the fast-paced new world.