Blog Post

Final Project - Commencement Speeches

To consolidate everything that we have learned in Dr. Kristyn J. Leuner’s “The Humanist in the Computer,” the team that I am a part of is analyzing commencement speeches given at Dartmouth College. The goal of the project is to learn more about the purpose of a commencement speech and its common themes, and how these themes reflect contemporary issues and personal views of the speaker. We will be using Voyant to carry out this endeavor.

My role in the team’s project is twofold. First, I will analyze two of the College’s commencement speeches and tease out the common thread among them. Second, I will report back to my team – in a Google Doc and in person – to connect my findings to those of the group. Being a humanities student, I think that I can offer my team written, communication, and analytical skills that could aid in the project’s development and presentation. I believe that I can combine my skills with those of my collaborators to maximize the potential of our project by contributing to dialogues between group members, as well as helping to communicate the ideas of others.

The kind of analysis that our team will be performing will require Voayant, but that is not the only technical component of the project. In addition to Voyant, we will be using WordPress to build our website, as well as Timeline JS to make a timeline. Using Voyant and Timeline JS would enable us to physically represent our analysis and make it readable to a public, while WordPress would help us to publish our content. We are still exploring the relationship between inequality and social injustice in this project, but one inequality I could point out in the commencement speeches that we are using is that they are those of a privileged institution. Nonetheless, the method that we are using has several affordances. First, it is easy to get documentation for the commencement speeches. Second, as students of the College, we could relate to the speakers who went to the College and speak in Dartmouth dialect. Our analysis should thus be interesting.



Really interesting point about how these speeches are those of a privileged institution - I wonder how that idea may or may not influence our project going forward. Also, from what I've seen we all have a differnet view of the last part of our project, which is how/what tools we will use to display our analysis. Right now the main contenders seem to be WordPress, Timeline JS, and building our own tool (or some combination of those). Do you have a view on which tools we should use, and also on if this is a question worth answering now, or if we should wait until the first stage of the project is complete?


Hi Raul,

You say that you are going to analyze two of the commencement speeches and tease out a common thread between them, and presumably your group mates will all be doing the same. Do you then plan to do comparison between the speeches you analyzed and those that your group mates did as well? Obviously you can't do direct comparison for each pair of speeches within a group of 8 or 10 speeches, but it seems like having some sort of overarching comparison or analysis would be useful.