Read Robert Nelson’s “Of Monsters, Men – and Topic Modelling” from the New York Times. It’s available here or, if you can’t get behind the paywall, you can search for it on your favorite search engine; the link should carry you to the article. You can find more information about the larger project and individual topics here.

Answer the following questions about this project.

  1. What kind of documents is Nelson working with?
  2. What kind of assumptions or research questions does he have for these texts?
  3. What general conclusions does he draw from topic modelling?
  4. What conclusions could not be reached through close reading of these texts? In other words, what is the unique contribution of topic modelling to our understanding of the Civil War?
  5. Look at the graphs/data for the other topics in the Richmond Dispatch. You can find the full list here. What do you notice?