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Looking closely at inaugural addresses

This week many of us will take the timely opportunity to study an important primary source–the Inaugural Address.

The New York Times offers a fascinating interactive timeline of word clouds, summaries, and full-text documents. (I suspect today’s address will be posted shortly.)

The timeline takes

a look at the language of presidential inaugural addresses. The most-used words in each address appear in the interactive chart below, sized by number of uses. Words highlighted in yellow were used significantly more in this inaugural address than average. 

Combined with the full-text for context, the analysis of these word clouds offers students a kind of short-hand lens with which to view history–a visualization of rhetoric and ideals, as well as a strategy for comparing and analyzing the different issues that face a president and a country each four (or so) years.

More resources:

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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