Analysing text with colors

On Tuesday we had a workshop session where we started analysing our assigned pieces of writing. All the texts are multiple pages (some extremely long), so to get a better understanding of the whole text visually everyone the arranged the pages in a long line. That way you could see the full text at once, instead of having them in a stack and seeing one page at the time.

At first I wasn’t sure if it would actually make much difference to see the pages spread out next to each other. But when we started highlighting, underlining and circling words and sentences with different colors, it made sense to work with the pages in this kind of arrangement. I could see at one glance the amount of quotes, key words or interesting sentences highlighted in different colors. It was like categorizing and color coding different elements of the text. By doing this, I noticed that the text actually had much more quotes from other texts than I had realized. That also led me to notice that the document has no footnotes or references for the quotes?? I need to ask about that. It could be good to know what sources the quotes are from so that I could possibly have a look at them myself too.

This method also made it easier to extract key words from the text. The key words that I circled with green were:

  • political censorship, the circulation of news, social networking, political gossip, suspicion by royalists, the penny entry, accessible to a large and diverse amount of people, non-hierarchical media institution, beginning of British democracy, political parties, gathering spots for merchants, promoting international trade, ever-rising tide of newsprint, literary culture, professional journalism, authorship, rights of publishing, copyright, satire boom, periodical subscription, legacies, Lloyd’s of London, coffee house of today, coffee bean

I think these words summarize the themes of the text pretty well and cover the important cultural changes connected to coffee houses.

To me one of the most interesting themes of the essay is the notion of rebellion, democracy and disregard of rank. I highlighted important words related to that in yellow:

  • time of highly political and media censorship
  • accused of encouraging political dissent and rebellious attitudes
  • places of threatening sedition, not encouraged by the state
  • egalitarian atmosphere
  • regardless of rank
  • beginning of British democracy
  • coffeehouse proclamation in 1675
  • opposition of the monarch
  • radical political relation
  • defy the interests of the King
  • gossip, scandal, sedition, contestatory, oppositional, rebellious, dissident

The other theme that interests me in the rise of journalism and newspapers. I didn’t get as far as circling words related to that with another color. However, I know from the few times that I have now read the text that it is the other big thing that came from the social status of the coffee houses. I think I will try to develop some ideas for both of the themes (social change and literature) and then decide later on which works better. I think both themes have lots of potential and different possibilities.

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