As we work towards version 0.5 of the Young Readers Database of Literature, including voices from across the LGBTQ+ spectrum -- past and present -- remains a high priority in our collection and digitization work. Acquiring physical copies (some of which can be quite difficult to find!), scanning them, and then converting the scans to text for digital humanities research is quite a bit of work, and much of it happens behind the scenes. To celebrate Pride Month, we'll be tweeting a book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist every day from Christine A. Jenkins and Michael Cart's "Representing the Rainbow in Young Adult Literature: LGBTQ+ Content since 1969" along with the book's cover, synopsis, and a word cloud of the text, giving you a peek at some of the often-invisible work facilitating digital text analysis.
Why a word cloud? These quick word-frequency visualizations are anything but trendy in digital humanities circles. But for this celebration of LGBTQ+ YA literature, where there's no specific research question and we want to show at a glance what's in a particular book, we think it's the best tool for the job. For those technically inclined, we're generating the word clouds using Voyant Server, with a modified English stoplist available on GitHub. After looking at both possibilities, we decided to keep character names, even though they dominate the word cloud; these books are about characters.
We hope you enjoy this month of queer literature for young readers, and maybe even find a new read in the process!