Thursday, October 15, 2015


Hey everyone! In my American Lit class we have sadly left the craziness of good ol' Salem behind (boo, though i'm actually going there tomorrow so that should be interesting...more to come on that) and we have moved onto the Great Awakening. This time period, which began in the mid 1700's in America, is known for being a religious revival of sorts. Though religious devotion and reformation is a common thread in the texts from Salem as well as from authors of the Great Awakening like Jonathan Edwards, the inclusion of emotion is what sets the latter apart from the former. Long gone are the days of snooze-inducing Puritan prose, as Edward's works like Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God are fraught with fervent imagery, raw emotion, and maybe even some sexy stuff. In addition to looking at Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, we also examined Personal Narrative. The contrast between the two texts is stark, as one portrays God and religion as something to be revered and feared while the other suggests that he is beautiful and lovely. This contrast is especially blatant in the language used, and in the choice and repetition of certain words.

Word cloud for Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Word cloud for Personal Narrative

So, I decided to make word clouds for both of the texts we looked at. For those who may not know, word clouds are a visual representation of word frequency. Therefore, the bigger a word is the more it is used! Repetition is a theme that pervades Edwards' work, and it is easy to see when looking at these word clouds. As he was a preacher, it can be deduced that repetition is a kind of tactic to drive home a point. In Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, the most used words are God (woah, shocker there), hell, wrath, destruction, and pleasure. For Personal Narrative, those words are God (again), Christ, sweet, divine, glory, and infinite.

God and the varying emotion that one feels in relation is obviously the topic of both pieces, however the contrast in language between the two are what distance them from each other. Fire and brimstone or light and goodness, either way Edwards certainly portrays God in such a way that provokes critical thought but also maybe an eye roll for good measure.

until next time,

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant idea! I might steal that next time I teach these two texts. Generally, I have always found the word cloud exercise to be kind of stupid, but you really show how it can be used to do some cool tech-enabled analysis of a text. Cool!


site design by designer blogs