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  (regex(corpus)))  // A case study"

Digital Poster by Dr. Robert W. Williams,
DHSI 2022 Conference and Colloquium,
Digital Humanities Summer Institute 2022,
University of Victoria, Canada,
6 –10 June 2022 
ONLINE  10 June 2022
Session 2: Texts & Images (10:05 –10:30 am PDT)
[Conference and Colloquium: 9:30 –11:30 am PDT 

My poster can be accessed as either a PDF file (~500K) or in a PNG image format (~2.1M).
Note: Within the PDF file the URL links in the "Works Cited" section are highlighted and functional; upon clicking, you will be trans­ported to that Internet location. However, wthin the PNG image file the links are not functional, despite being highlighted.

Abstract of the presentation 
The project sets forth computationally mediated techniques that I developed to study the ideas of W.E.B. Du Bois, the U.S. civil rights activist and scholar. With such techniques I examine as a case study his formulation of "democratic despotism", a concept that highlights his argument that some aspects of democracy could be promoted within colonizing countries which nevertheless exploited peoples of color around the world. As a distinct phrase "democratic despotism" occurs only in texts of 1915 and 1930. But via DH-based conceptual analysis we can locate the synonymous and metaphorical ways by which Du Bois expressed the idea in different works. For example, in a 1924 essay he wrote: "most modern men of the masses believe the advancement of civilization necessarily involves slavery, lust and rapine in Africa." Other scholarship on Du Bois does not trace his auto-intertextuality by DH means.

My poster presents the work flow and techniques by which I uncovered the other inflections of the concept among Du Bois's works. Apropos the poster's title, I apply regular expressions to a corpus via a concordancer. The techniques combine close and distant reading techniques, melding attention to the details of an author's word usage with the capability of accessing a large corpus. My corpus consists of about 230 documents selected non-representatively from among Du Bois's 2000-plus writings. The poster presents the specially crafted regexes and a discussion of the results regarding how he intricately conveyed his idea of "democratic despotism".

Keywords: Regular expressions; close reading; distant reading; W.E.B. Du Bois; democratic despotism
My other lectures and presentations are listed on my LECTURES page.
My biography and C.V. (with a list of my other publications) are located on this site.