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Erin Pevan

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February 24, 2017

An organized chaos of Ngrams, corpora, and theory

February 24, 2017 | By | No Comments

At this point in my project exploring Norwegian national identity in literature over time, there is not much to report other than my continued progress knee-deep into the different pieces of my project. Over the past several weeks, I have been delving into different visualization tools to illustrate trends in national identity in Norway over time, and Ngram viewers (such as Google Ngram Viewer and Culturomics Bookworm, as well as a new fun Ngram discovery from the Norwegian Nasjonalbibliotekets Språkbanken repository) are the tools I am currently testing as my visualization for these trends.

As part of this exploration of visualizations, I have been working on my corpus of literature texts, make slow but sure progress in this area collecting authors and genres of texts to analyze. In this vein, I have been generously granted access to the extensive collection of digitized Norwegian texts through Nasjonalbiblioteket, a huge step in the right direction for building the actual digitized textual evidence portion of my corpus – mange tusen takk for det, Nasjonalbiblioteket! Also, I have also come across some potentially very useful tools and texts through Nasjonalbibliotekets Språkbanken repository, which includes its own Ngrams and digitized texts, as well as (a very new discovery for me!) tool (in beta) for building a corpus. The next step with these pieces will be to sift through the data and begin organizing it all in a way that will work with my visualization tool. One piece that still needs work – a title for my project, but that remains to be seen.

In addition, I’ve continued refining and organized the theory I will utilize for this project, as well as continuing to build my website – who would have thought translating what is in my head to the screen could prove such a challenge?

One aspect of this project that has been both challenging and exciting is the development of my theoretical frameworks in which to examine how national identity in Norway has been identified and given substance over time. One theorist I’ve recently begun reading in depth is Anthony D. Smith, most well-known for his work on nationalism and identity. One particular aspect of his work I am finding intriguing is the notion that ethnic unity denotes national unity, a unity that connects to history and mythology as ethno-symbolic factors upon which this unity survives (put very, very simply). This framework is interesting, as it raises many questions for me regarding the multiculturalism growing in Norway and the importance of literature (narratives) in Norway’s conceptualization of national identity, and how this has contributed historically to national identity. Just one more piece is the ever-complicating puzzle that is slowly coming together for my project!

Works referenced:

Anthony D. Smith. 1991 National Identity. London: Penguin.
Anthony D. Smith. 1998 Nationalism and Modernism: A Critical Survey of Recent Theories of Nations and Nationalism. New York: Routledge.

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