Week 5 Blog Post

We have three readings on politics, all available on Canvas, and one on topic modeling for this week.

On politics, read V.O. Key’s section on Virginia in his classic study of Southern politics, Lassiter’s study of moderates and massive resistance in the wake of Brown vs. Board, and Skowronek’s introduction to the study of American Political Development.

For Thursday, we will have a discussion on Virginia politics.  Each of us should be able to explain our topic and contribute to our class’s broader, developing narrative about 20th century Virginia politics.  To that end, the first key question for this week’s blog post is for you to explain your findings and narrative in one paragraph.  1) Tell us your story thus far in one paragraph.  You should be growing familiar with some key figures in your narrative — VA governors, Congressional representatives, and state politicians and activists.  Include people in your story.

This is also a data-driven project.  Give us some data to help support your account — election results, public opinion polls, demographics, etc.  I will assume you have some exposure to data sources like the U.S. Census (published or digital), but perhaps not much.  For the Census, you can go to NHGIS.org or SocialExplorer.com  The Roper Center (available through the library) is one of the key academic aggregators of historical public opinion polling; ICPSR (through the library) has polling data; and Proquest Statistical Insight has some, as well.  Start browsing these to familiarize yourself with the interface and with the data sources, and make sure you are thinking about data all through the project — the data/mapping assignment is just an introduction.

We will also be reading Rob Nelson’s NYT piece on topic modeling, “Of Monsters, Men — and Topic Modeling.”  Data and digital analysis are not merely quantitative.  Natural language process is a related tool.  2) What exposure have you had to textual analysis of large corpora, and what would textual material would you like to see analyzed?

UPDATE: Let’s also remember 3) what have you been listening to, and what is your takeaway for the most recent week of reading or thinking about podcasts?