Australian Indigenous Life Writing: Analysing Discourses with Word Embedding Modelling

The genre of Australian Aboriginal autobiography is a literature of significant socio-political importance, with authors sharing a history different to the one previously asserted by the European settlers which ignored or misrepresented Australia's First People. While there has been a number of studies looking at the works belonging to this genre from various perspectives, Australian Indigenous life writing has never been approached from the digital humanities point of view which, given the constant development of computer technologies and growing availability of digital sources, offers humanities researchers many opportunities for exploring textual collections from various angles. With this research work I contribute to closing the above-mentioned research gap and discuss the results of the interdisciplinary research project within the scope of which I created a bibliography of published Australian Indigenous life writing works, designed and assembled a corpus and created word embedding models of this corpus which I then used to explore the discourses of identity, land, sport, and foodways, as well as gender biases present in the texts in the context of postcolonial literary studies and Australian history. Studying these discourses is crucial for gaining a better understanding of the contemporary Australian society as well as the nation's history. Word embeddings modelling has recently been used in digital humanities as an exploratory technique to complement and guide traditional close reading approaches, which is justified by their potential to identify word use patterns in a collection of texts. In this dissertation, I provide a case study of how word embedding modelling can be used to investigate humanities research questions and reflect on the issues which researchers may face while working with such models, approaching various aspects of the research project from the perspectives of digital source and tool criticism. I demonstrate how word embedding model of the analysed corpus represents
discourses through relationships between word vectors that reflect the historical, political, and cultural environment of the authors and some unique experiences and perspectives related to their racial and gender identities. I show how the narrators reconstruct the analysed discourses to achieve the main goals of Australian Indigenous life writing as a genre - reclaiming identity and rewriting history.

Diese Publikation in unserem institutionellen Repositorium ( anzeigen.