Frequencies Across the Corpus


RelativeReligousVSecularFor this graph, the relative frequencies of each religious or secular word used in each text were added together, and the colored bars demonstrate the percentage of that total that were religious or secular (click here for words used). This graph demonstrates that, as expected, the two doctors, William Douglass and Zabdiel Boylston, used mostly secular language, and Edmund Massey and William Cooper, two Puritan ministers, both used mostly religious language. Most interestingly, Cotton Mather uses only 40% religious language even though he is a minister. This nearly 50/50 mix of religious and secular language points to the fact that Mather continued to use the traditional Puritan language, but also devoted significant portions of his writing to explaining the medical details of smallpox inoculation. Also notice that no text is completely devoid of religious language. Finally, a comparison between Douglass’ two texts reveals that a greater percentage of religious language is used in the text that is a criticism of the inoculators pamphlets promoting inoculation (Abuses) than his factual discussion of the practice itself (dissertation). This points to the fact that the use of religious or secular language does not necessarily indicate the perspective of the author, but rather, the nature of the document.



FrequencyReligiousVSecularIn this graph, the bars represent the relative frequency in the text rather a percentage of the total use of those 20 words. Notice that Edmund Massey used the chosen words most frequently. William Douglass in “Abuses and Scandal” used the chosen words relatively infrequently. This graph gives some indication of the reliability of the percentage results since works where these words are used less frequently are more likely to be include other religious or secular words not considered in the current interpretation.


Relative Frequency: God and Lord
Relative Frequency: God and Lord

This graph shows the relative frequencies of the words “Lord” and “God” in each text, showing more subtle differences than total religious language. Of all ten religious words used, God is used most frequently. Although Edmund Massey uses the most religious language in total, this graph reveals that he uses “God” less frequently. The reason for this may be that he often uses “Lord” instead of “God” as shown by red bar. Although both words refer to the sovereign deity, the word “Lord” emphasizes His power and authority. This makes sense because the main message of Massey’s sermon is that inoculation questions God’s authority and power by replacing it with man’s will regarding disease.


Use of "Evil," "Devil," and "Sin"
Use of “Evil,” “Devil,” and “Sin”

This graph shows the relative frequencies of the words “evil,” “devil,” and “sin” in each text, showing more subtle differences than total religious language. Notice that as usual, Edmund Massey, the puritan minister, uses “devil” and “sin” most frequently in his sermon against inoculation, and these words are used at the same frequency in both ministers’ writing. The Anti-inoculators (Douglass, Williams, and Massey) tend to use these negative words more frequently than the supporters of inoculation, but “evil” breaks this pattern. Looking at this word in context reveals that “evil” is a more general term,  used to describe  smallpox as an evil disease, the evil of inoculation, and evil as sin and a presence in the world. The large frequency of “evil” in Cooper’s text can be attributed to one section in which he defines “that which is good and evil” and how it is to be avoided.

Use of "God" by Mather
Use of “God” by Mather

This graph shows the use of the word “God” across Mather’s text, “Some account of what is said of inoculating or transplanting the small pox” (see texts used). Voyant divides the text arbitrarily into ten equal sections (see methods: using Voyant). Mather’s use of “God” can be explained by reading the texts. The first section of text is a recounting of the methods of inoculation as recorded in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Later sections are Mather’s response and promotion of inoculation. This demonstrates that although Mater uses a fair amount of secular language relative to other ministers, the use corresponds to the type of audience and writing he is doing. One could argue his “true” voice comes across in his remarks where “God” is used most frequently.

Use of "God" by Boylston
Use of “God” by Boylston

This graph shows the use of the word “God” across Boylston’s text, “An historical account of the small-pox inoculated in New England” (see texts used). Voyant divides the text arbitrarily into ten equal sections (see methods: using Voyant).  Similar to Mather, reading the text gives context to this use. Boylston mentions an obligation to the Princess of Wales (to whom the book is addressed) under God in his introduction, the middle section is a recounting of all the details of his medical practice, and in his conclusion, he refers twice to God as the source of this salvation from smallpox. Although Boylston mentions God only three times, the attribution at the end reveals a sincere belief underlying the medical information that makes up the majority of the text.

Clustered Word Frequencies

In this graph, Voyant draws in words used in close association with the twenty religious and secular words selected and draws lines between words closely linked in the texts. The size of the word is relative to its frequency in the texts and the color corresponds to the text in which that word is most frequently used. This graph reveals an interesting separation of religious words from more general and secular terms such as “inoculated,” “small-pox,” and “symptoms.” The religious words used in association with “God” are connected to the more secular terms through “way,” a term used frequently across the corpus. However, several religious words such as “faith” and “sin” are more isolated, showing that they are used less frequently. Also notice that “physick,” the 18th century term for things related to medicine is more closely linked with God than other secular words. This may be due to the fact that “physick” is used frequently by Williams (In “Several arguments, proving, that inoculating the small pox is not contained in the law of physick) who also uses a significant amount of religious language in his text.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s