I’ve recently discovered the ‘Wordle’ toy (described this way at wordle.net). Wordle takes bodies of text and generates ‘word clouds’ from them. The larger the word in the cloud, the more frequently it appears in the source text. I’ve been playing around with it while wondering how it could be used for teaching.
The Wordle in this blog post concerns the crisis of 6 February 1934 (which I’ve written about on this site before). In my course ‘France in Crisis, 1934-44’, which I teach at Swansea University, UK, students look at the appeals made by the various groups involved in the riot in the days preceding 6 February. There is much historical debate about the intentions of these groups – did they want to topple democratic regime or just the government? – and in class we try to work out what they wanted from these appeals.
I’ve recently co-authored a book on this riot, with Brian Jenkins, and in the appendix to this book Brian translated 13 appeals into English (the first time this has been done to my mind). I fed these translations into Wordle – here’s the result (click on the picture for a larger version).
I plan to use the Wordle in my class in the autumn, asking students to comment on the size of the words and what we might glean from these regarding the intentions of the groups (at least those intentions that they made public in writing). What strikes me at first glance is the size of the word ‘Government’…. can you spot ‘Republic’?