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Reporting the Empire: The Pall Mall Gazette 1870-1900


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Presentation by Tessa Hauswedell and Melvin Wevers at DH Benelux 2015. In the presentation, we show how we have used computational tools to research how the British newspapers the Pall Mall Gazette has reported on the British Empire.

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Reporting the Empire: The Pall Mall Gazette 1870-1900

  1. 1. Reporting the Empire The Pall Mall Gazette 1870-1900 Tessa Hauswedell, Asymenc, University College London Melvin Wevers, Translantis, Utrecht University
  2. 2. Research Questions ● What insights can distant reading methods provide into the reporting of empire? ● Can we detect trends, patterns that will give us new insights into how newspapers reported about the colonies - and the British Empire overall at home to its readers, on a larger timescale (30 years, 1870-1900)
  3. 3. The Pall Mall Gazette ● Digitised version from 1870-1900 with high quality OCR ● London-based evening newspaper ● Small circulation but influential editor William Stead ● Newspapers played a vital role in communicating the British empire at home, increasingly so from the 1870s onwards with advent of professional news agencies and improvements in technology (underwater cables etc) which enabled speedier reporting of news.
  4. 4. British Newspapers and Empire ● Widespread view amongst historians that the press was crucial in gaining support for the empire domestically. ● But few actual studies conclusively demonstrate this. ● Studying smaller newspaper might therefore add more nuance to th picture.
  5. 5. Methods Used ● Four techniques from corpus linguistics: o Word Frequencies (AntConc) o Named Entity Recognition (StanfordNER) + Geomapping (Google Fusion Tables) o Topic Modeling (Mallet) o Collocation Analysis (AntConc)
  6. 6. DH Workflows (1) NER ● Extract entities: locations over 30-year period ● January and July newspapers (n>20) ● Used the output to generate a heatmap in Google Fusion Tables
  7. 7. Visualization
  8. 8. AntConc Frequencies (2) ● Count the mentioned of cities ● Dominance of Paris > bump in 1870-1871 Franco- Prussian War > not for Berlin though ● New York most prominent American city ● Fall in mentions of European vis-a-vis American cities (90 percent in 1870 to 78 percent in 1900)
  9. 9. DH Workflows (3) - Topic Modeling ● Topic model for each year 1870-1900 (50 topics, 15 words, 200 iterations) ● Using TextVoyant > distinctive locations o 1878: Russian, Treaty, Russia, Cyprus o 1882: Egypt, Egyptian o 1890: Ireland, Chicago, Colony o 1900: Peking, Paris, China, Bloemfontein, Sydney ● Find topic words for these words
  10. 10. Topic Modeling (1878 & 1890) ● jan peace armistice war january interests russian aged constantinople pasha dec russia england turkish grand ● engraved russian russians forster bread fortifications turk humour gipsy bulgarians organ lewis statue loud orloff ● oct berlin light started cyprus church november collision envoy asia treaty river gas socialist musical ● feb fleet russia constantinople pope russian meeting conference derby february dardanelles gallipolli british conditions div ● colonies colony Conference hon penny National labour postage Parnell pupil Bench Museum expenditure Randolph colonial ● Parnell Mr Irish PARNELL party Ireland leader Rule Koch thle Home leadership Shea Dr political ● Teufel October September Ireland nurses Congress Birchall Comte Church PILLS hospital Hospital life Sept terrier ● calling Victoria Trains Class Returning lead Junction Chicago Fare Fares Isle avenue Guards yards Return ● lIlocblob April Stanley artist Davis licences Goschen ROAD Jones WEDDING painter Chicago Fred PRESENTS collieries
  11. 11. Cluster / Collocation Analysis (AntConc) ● AntConc Enables concordancing and collocations, as well as cluster or n-gram analysis ● In sets of ten years
  12. 12. Cluster Analysis Right, Example Output Total No. of Cluster Types: 39 #Total No. of Cluster Tokens: 1475 1 742 10 the british 2 354 10 of the british 3 50 10 in the british 4 35 9 to the british 5 20 9 and the british 6 20 9 that the british 7 17 8 part of the british 8 17 6 throughout the british 9 16 7 for the british 10 15 7 parts of the british 11 11 6 portion of the british 12 9 6 all parts of the british 13 9 2 colonies of the british 14 9 4 up the british 15 9 7 with the british 16 8 2 classes throughout the british
  13. 13. Themes for further research Future vs Past Part or Whole Class vs Race
  14. 14. Conclusions ● Use of different techniques to create contrast ● Every method has shortcomings ● International outlook of Empire ● We have found strands to further investigate using directed close-reading keyword searches