|Textmining Media Hypes of the Nineteenth Century|
|Since the advent of printing, pamphlets have been the most important medium for conveying national and international news. And pamphlets functioned as the primary medium for propaganda, political debate and public protest as well. From the seventeenth century on, some of these functions were adopted by a then new phenomenon: the periodical press. However, this transition progressed only slowly and the pamphlet therefore could maintain its primary role well into the second half of nineteenth century when finally statutory freedom of the press, abolishment of the taxes on newspapers and technical innovations caused the rise of the newspaper.
In the second half of the nineteenth century the transition from pamphlet to periodicals and newspapers accelerated. At the dawn of the twentieth century the periodicals had far outnumbered the pamphlets that from then on mainly functioned as the vehicle for collectives like pressure groups.
Up to now, pamphlets and newspapers have always been studied separately, as distinct genres. Therefore we have no information on how the transition from one medium to the other has taken place and how this may have affected the public debate. To give two examples: the question what happens to a pamphlet text when it is published in a newspaper and one or more editors had their say on its contents is not answered. And a lot of pamphlets were published anonymously, but newspaper articles are tied to the newspaper and therefore their origins are much easier to trace.
The project "The long life of the political pamphlet" pamphlets and newspaper texts from the same periods and on the same topics are researched to trace the effects of the transition on the content of these media.
For a number of national issues periods of media hypes in different periods are compared. In addition the inquiries into the national press are performed using another transition: the one from paper to electronic texts. Many textual sources will become available in an electronic form in the near future. This opens possibilities for usage of ICT tools like text mining to facilitate this kind of research.
Until the end of the nineteenth century media hypes can be traced by periods of a sudden rise in pamphlet production accompanied by a sudden change in the content of periodicals and newspapers. Pamphlets and articles in newspapers and periodicals regarding issues of public debate were compared mutually as regards such matters as the rhetorical devices employed such as preferred terminology, references to persons and institutions and evaluative arguments. The question was asked how remediation took place, that is: which rhetorical conventions were taken over by the newspapers and which were abolished?
The software used allows for further modelling as well thus allowing to research connections between contents and metadata like authorship, particular medium and last but not least 'was the document ever used by a historian as a source?" This method results in a much clearer image of how the media conveyed the messages.
An image that can complete and partly replace the current fragmented impressions we have of the nineteenth-century press culture. Not only will the knowledge we thus acquire on remediation be discussed, but the issue whether text mining is a suitable method for this kind of research will be addressed as well.