All posts by sarahbailey

Longer Essay #2 – Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw

I was browsing through I ♥ E-Poetry.com, and I came across what is described by the author, Donna Leishman, as an “animated interactive graphic” (Leishman).  It is titled “Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw,” and it is based on the historical account of the demon possession of an 11-year-old girl named Christian Shaw in 1696 during the witch trials.  The landscape of this piece of “literature” is presented almost entirely in a non-textual way, although there is one instance of text at the very end which tries to explain the historical background underlying the graphic.  The user “reads” this graphic by clicking and hovering over certain graphics which open up separate screens and tell part of Christian’s story.  Although the real story takes place in 1696, the graphics are modernized.  Many of the images or videos are quite disturbing — appropriate for the subject of demon possession.  Many of the graphics are various plants that seem to serve no purpose to the story but change as your mouse hovers over them.  I got to go through the story four times, and each time I found new things to click on which revealed more parts to the story. There’s no way of knowing if you’ve ever explored all of the possibilities!

The graphic starts out with a blank screen with a clickable picture of what looks like an upside-down tree:
Deviant 3

After clicking this image, a scene of the town of “Balgarran” appears and a sad melody plays in the background.  The windows of the skyscrapers emit eerie tones that harmonize with the melody when your mouse hovers over them.  Among the things you can click on are the cross steeple of the church and a ladder that seems to be emerging from a tree (there may be more that I am not aware of).  Here’s what the opening page looks like:
Deviant 4
I first clicked on the cross steeple on the church and a window popped up with a repeating video of a  preacher sleeping at his desk. If you click on one of the drawers of his desk, a Bible appears. The first page of the book contains some of the only text in the program which says, “I am the right Reverend James Brisbane minister to Kilmacoim. I am new to Balgarran.” Upon further clicks, the “Bible” turns out to be a secret case that holds a voodoo doll of who you expect to be Christian Shaw:Deviant 5There are various other paths that can be taken from this screen, but the first time I “read” this graphic, I clicked on the alarm clock which presumably wakes up the reverend and sends you back to the graphic of the town.  Now there are several items to click on, and the story of Christian Shaw begins.  There is an image of two fires burning in barrels over which Christian warms her hands.  To click to different pages within the pop-up box, there are little X’s that are easy to miss.  Upon clicking the X, Christian turns into a scary old hag:
deviant 6

Not many questions are answered about why certain things happen to Christian.  One video shows the reverend taking her into a room of scientists.  She inexplicably spits out a burning coal.  Another video, presumably after she has been “possessed” shows her with red eyes and bending over backwards at an impossible angle:

deviant 7

One of the final “episodes” in the graphic includes Christian standing before a panel of what look to be religious figures and scientists.  As she is standing there, you can click on people that pop up on the bottom of the screen.  As you click on them, they are thrown in a jail cell.  When all six people are collected, a scene of a burning building appears.  As your mouse wanders over the building, windows appear and you realize that the people you captured are now burning alive in the building.
Deviant 8

This disturbing video concludes the graphic, and a page pops up with text that explains the history of the 1696 possession of Christian Shaw and how this graphic tries to tell her story.

The text explains that Christian’s case was one of the most well-remembered cases of “demonic possession,” and that 6 people, 3 men and 3 women, were put to death as a result of being accused of causing the possession.  The account recorded many of the strange happenings that are depicted in this graphic.  The doctor examining Christian supposedly saw her spit out a burning coal that was too hot for anyone to touch. There were also documented accounts of Christian contorting her body into impossible positions and retrieving her glove from the ground just using her mind — both of which are shown in the graphic.  Christian’s case was found to be written by anonymous author and very much in the style of many of the accounts of Salem witch trial cases just four years prior.  Recent historians speculate that the author of the case may have been influenced by the witch trial accounts and may have been fabricating Christian Shaw’s case in order to “prove” the existence of the Devil and God. While it is still very much a mystery as to what actually happened to Christian, it has been confirmed that 6 men and women were killed in the little town of Belgerran on June 10,  1697 (Leishman).

Leishman concludes her graphic with this explanation:

“My personal response on hearing this tale, was one of curiosity, something rang untrue about this 11-year-old, daughter of a Laird, who mischievously conned all these erudite adults. Then the visual aspects of the story – the eyes retracting into her head, her body bending double… seemed horrifically ridiculous and impossible, but my overall intuition led me to feel that Christian, our cultural memory of her had been unjustly distorted, ‘Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw’ is my sentinel to who I think Christian might have been, a re-imagining of her world.” (Leishman)

Because our image of Christian Shaw is so distorted by the unreliable account of her life, Leishman felt the need to reconstruct Christian with this interactive graphic story.  While it is only an account of who Leishman imagines her to be, it gives us an alternative and somewhat sympathetic view towards Christian Shaw and those who were killed — a strikingly different point of view from the anonymous author, who tried to incriminate Christian and the 6 men and women as evil and demonic.  Leishman’s work also retains the aura of mystery that still surrounds Christian’s case by not fully explaining the strange graphics throughout the story.  The “reader” is still left wondering what is actually happening to Christian.  Is she actually possessed? Do the 6 people have something to do with what is happening to her? What are the strange creatures that periodically pop up throughout the graphic? Just like we will never know the accurate historical account of Christian’s “possession,” we will never know the significance of many of Leishman’s graphics.

     It has been difficult for me to view this graphic as a piece of literature, much less some form of poetry. I can see that it has narrative elements, but it acts more like an interactive movie than a piece of literature. I didn’t feel that I was “reading” so much as I was “watching” what has happening to Christian.  However, the many pathways that reveal different parts of the story reminded me of the choose-your-own-story narratives or the Garden of Forking Paths that we read at the beginning of the semester — both of which I would consider works of literature. On the other hand, we never looked at “literature” in this class that was purely graphics, so I hesitate to say that “Deviant” counts as literature.

     It’s been fun to play with the graphic multiple times.  Each time I have discovered a new piece of Christian’s story, but unfortunately each new piece seems to be weirder than the ones before it.   I think this graphic is definitely worth exploring, and I’d love to hear others’ opinions on whether or not this would count as literature.

References:

Leishman, Donna. “Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw.”
Retrieved from http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/leishman__deviant_the_possession_of_christian_shaw.html

 

 

 

 

 

Flarf Poem

Waterfalls, Stars, and Sunrise

Beautiful sunrise, amazing waterfall, and a golden eagle flying over, Its just simply breathtaking.
Photos of waterfalls and rivers can often look static or lifeless
If there are a million other stars distracting you from the task–
A sky so clear that you can see and almost touch a thousand stars.
It is in morning twilight, just before sunrise.
Along the trail you will find a great spot to watch the sunrise.
Sunrise hits the face of the mountain,
Allowing for a pleasant hike to a secluded waterfall.
The cascading water is an unexpected and mesmerizing sight.
Photos can’t do justice to the size and beauty of this waterfall!
The waterfall sings, “I find my song, when I find my freedom!”
New adventures await discovery
Many interesting and beautiful things to see.
It can make you completely relaxed.

I attempted to make a flarf poem that wasn’t completely ridiculous and carried some sort of meaning.  I used the words “waterfall,” “stars,” and “sunrise” because I recently took a hiking trip where I saw all of these things.  I wanted to see if I could create a poem with some sort of aesthetic value, and I think to some extent I succeeded. It was definitely more difficult to create something that flowed and made some sort of sense.  I made my way through 21 Google search pages before I found all of the above lines.  I think flarf requires a great deal of creativity and effort if you’re trying to create meaning or play with poetic devices. It took me almost 30 minutes to search and rearrange the lines. It’s a neat experience, and I’d be willing to argue for its poetic value!

 

First Longer Blog Essay: Feed and the loss of humanity

M. T. Anderson imagines a world where technology literally becomes a part of the human being. The “feed” is interwoven with the brain, making it impossible for the human to live without it. If the feed malfunctions, you’re done for. Violet learns this the hard way when her feed is disrupted by a mysterious old man on the moon.  She begins to lose control of parts of her body for short periods of time until her entire body becomes paralyzed and shuts down.  This novel critiques the pervasiveness of technology, how it is becoming a part of everything we do—our speech, our work, school, shopping, and recreation. It conjectures what could happen to humanity if technology were to become one with our bodies and become a part of our every-day, minute-by-minute lives.  A guiding question throughout Feed could be how does the feed demand a reconceptualization of what it means to be human? Indeed, personal communication, the freedom to think for one’s self, and the ability to love and have meaningful relationships—all essential parts of what make us human—are greatly diminished or even stripped away by the feed.

From the very beginning of the novel, we find that speech is losing its place in human communication.  Everyone uses a chat function on the feed to communicate with one another. The little speech we do read is limited; there are few words per sentence, consisting of many familiar uses of “dude” and “unit.”  The doctor that treats Titus and his friends on the moon cannot even remember medical terminology. He says, “Could we like get a thingie, a reading on his limbic activity?” (69). Humans are so unused to speaking without the aid of the feed that they lose vocabulary skills. Titus’ dad only responds to Titus’ story of what happened on the moon with “’Yeah,’ ‘Yeah,’ ‘Yeah,’ ‘Oh yeah,’ ‘Yeah,’ ‘Shit,’ ‘Yeah’” (56).  Whole rooms at parties could be silent due to everyone chatting and listening to music on their feeds. Titus tells us as he and Violet walk into a party, “Someone was being a DJ and broadcasting tracks on the feed, so we tuned in, because otherwise you just hear the shuffling while people are moving around with no music on the floor” (191).  Violet and her father seem to be the only humans who still value spoken word. Violet admires Titus’ ability to speak in metaphor, a seemingly lost art in this futuristic culture. She asks him to “Talk to [her]. In the air” to which Titus reveals to the reader “I hate these kinds of conversations” (169).  It is clear that talking out loud requires more effort, but Violet clings to the old way of speaking.  At the end of the book when Violet is dying, Titus chooses “not to listen to the noise on the feed” and to speak to Violet out loud. He recognizes the importance of speech, and chooses to spend Violet’s last moments telling her stories out loud (296).

The feed is constantly streaming information into humans.  They see advertisements, TV shows, commercials, and news casts constantly and sometimes simultaneously.  The pervasiveness of these media messages even shows through the text.  Throughout the novel, we see flashes of what Titus sees through his feed—many of which give us a window into the dilapidated condition of the United States. One could argue that these messages are so invasive that humans lose the ability to think for themselves. This is evident by the fact that no one questions the lesions infecting everyone.  The United States puts out a message trying to convince people that the lesions are not its fault:

It is our duty as Americans, and as a nation dedicated to freedom and free commerce, to stand behind our fellow Americans and not cast . . . things at them.  Stones, for example.  The first stone.  By this I mean that we shouldn’t think that there are any truth to the rumors that the lesions are the result of any activity of American industry.  Of course they are not the result of anything American industry has done. . . America is the nation of freedom, and that freedom, my friends, freedom does not lesions make. (85)

This message from the government tries to take people’s attention off of the lesions and remind them that it is freedom and commerce that they should be focusing on.  People are so wrapped up in buying more stuff that they are completely unfazed by the gaping wounds in their skin. This commerce culture is also evident by the many personalized advertisements and virtual shopping partners with which the feed continually bombards its users. Violet attempts to “resist the feed” by showing interest in random products. She believes that the feed makes people “less and less varied as people, more simple” and hopes to become “invisible” to the feed (97).  She hopes to be able to think for herself and not be constantly swayed by the feed.

The feed also inhibits people’s ability to love and have meaningful relationships. The structure of the family is strangely altered by the need for a conceptionarium. Because of “ambient radiation,” people could no longer have babies naturally (225).  Parents would have to go to a conceptionarium where they grew infants in test tubes. Not only to humans lose the ability to conceive and carry children, their children no longer have pure genetic ties to their parents. These babies could also be genetically altered to contain DNA from various sources. Titus’ mother tells him that he has the “hairline of DelGlacey Murdoch,” a big actor (116).  She continues, “We thought he was like the most beautiful man we’d ever seen in our lives” (116).  Link’s parents included Abraham Lincoln’s DNA from “the bloodstains found on [Mary] Todd Lincoln’s opera cloak” into his embryo (186). Strained familial relationships are only confirmed by Titus’ refusal to call his brother by his real name and always referring to him as “Smell Factor.” Expressing romantic love is also difficult for those tied to the feed. In the end of the novel, instead of simply telling Violet that he loves her, Titus has to frame his thoughts in the form of a movie trailer—something he was probably all too familiar with as a result to being constantly connected to the feed.

M. T. Anderson creates a world in which the most basic, most essential parts of humanity are stripped away by the constant, biologically interwoven feed. The ability to speak out loud is all but lost, evident by the short sentence structures, lack of robust vocabulary, and the extreme effort it takes to carry on a conversation without the feed. People can no longer think for themselves.  Gaping lesions plague the general public, but the feed is sure to focus people’s attention on the freedom and consumerism that America offers. Human relationships deteriorate due to the inability for humans to conceive and birth children on their own or express love in original, meaningful ways.  Violet’s determination and ultimate failure to “resist the feed” is a critique on the ways that technology is beginning to eliminate the need for basic human interactions in our world. Anderson shows us what could happen if we become one with the technology around us, and it is a scary future—one we should avoid at all costs.

Mission Statement and Project Plan- Frankenstein Group

Mission Statement

Our group chose Frankenstein, the classic gothic novel by Mary Shelley, as our book for the project. The story depicts how young scientist Victor Frankenstein’s life was ruined by a grotesque and unruly monster that he created, which urges readers to reflect on the relationship between humanity, science and technology.

Since Frankenstein was first published in 1818, it has been adapted into many different genres, including movies, plays, videogames and comic books. Regarding the popularity of the story, there have undoubtedly been a number of research projects on the book; nevertheless, we decided to distinguish ours by making it a visually interesting and easily accessible online project that should benefit the general public. In other words, those who happen to have interest in the story after watching an adaptation in movie or reading a comic book, yet who do not have time or are not committed to finishing the original novel, will be able to get useful and broad information on the original story and other adaptations from our website without spending too much time. The potential contents of the website will be introduced in the fourth section of this passage.

Our project will majorly focus on building up a timeline, where we will try to discover the changes in people’s view of Frankenstein among the adaptations over time, as well as whether and how these changes reflect the time that the adaptation was made in. By looking at the timeline, we want to see through time and learn how people’s attitude towards technology gradually changes, which fits into the general idea of this course as well.

Existing resources/”competition”, both digital and traditional

Because Frankenstein is such a popular text and has been reimagined by several authors and movie/TV show producers, there are several versions of  the text, both digital and print, that we have to “compete” with.  Just to list a few, there are  several online versions of Frankenstein (including Kindle and Nook versions). There’s a neat interactive digital version that allows you create the story as you read (very similar to some of the interactive texts we have experimented with in class). There are comic books (http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=25024: may explain why the monster became Frankenstein), movies throughout the decades, TV shows like The Munsters in which the father character is modeled off of Frankenstein, and Young Adult literature. There are even Frankenstein plays.

This 1931 Frankenstein movie adaptation demonizes the monster as an unstoppable destructive force. This movie takes all humanity out of the creature (monster). It is a possible explanation behind the evolution of the creature as being the monster instead of Victor Frankenstein as Mary Shelley may have intended.

We also found a Young Frankenstein (comedy) 5 minute clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p5AG0Tqh3A). In this adaptation, Frankenstein’s Grandson takes over his grandfather’s works, but he is an idiot. This version is a parody of the original Frankenstein. The setup of the plot of this version is something like 3 stoogies meets the Adams family. While the characters portray all things nonsense, they still maintain the fear factor that comes with any reanimation story, like the one of Festus from the Adams family. This comedy version has taken the story and made exaggeration to make it funny rather than terrifying. For instance, the main character is not the scientist Victor, but his grandson who has inherited his lab, and as recklessly resurrected Frankenstein’s monster. But rather than the monster being chased by an angry mob. The mob attacks the scientist who somehow switched brains with the monster.

Our project will offer a different perspective on Frankenstein.  It will show how descriptions of the monster have changed throughout the decades and how these changes reflect the anxieties about technology during those times. These changes will also hopefully reflect the major historical events during these decades as well.  We will compare at least 20 different adaptations of Frankenstein, but we will research more in depth at least 5 different versions from different genres.

Group Organization Plan

    We do not have a designated group leader, rather, each member will be responsible for an equal contribution to the project’s research, website design, and quality of information. Each group member will be responsible for a few items that will be placed on the timeline, including contextual information and background. Out of their collection of Frankenstein adaptations, each member will choose one that they believe is the most prevalent during its time of publication. For this adaptation, an expansion of the unique traits and a more detailed historical context and criticism will be included. Therefore the end result of the timeline will include five fully-researched and detailed adaptations. Ideally, we will have five from different periods of time, along with several other adaptations in between.

    Email will be our main way of communication, therefore all members are responsible for reading and responding to emails as well as any google documents that are shared within the group. The group will establish multiple deadlines for members conducting research, as the project will gradually build rather than become a sudden creation. The final formatting and any other additions will be made during an entire group meeting on a single computer. Each member must agree with any changes of editing before publication. This project will only be as successful as the communication and dedication offered by each and every member.

Tools

To see through time and build up the expected timeline, Ngram and Neatline/SIMILE are the major tools that we will employ.

Neatline- Neatline is a tool we plan to utilize for mapping the different versions and/or scripts of the adaptations as they were produced or published. Essentially, the Neatline engine will help us to visually display the various books ,comics, and movies that were adapted in the myriad of contexts (both historical and non-historical) for Frankenstein. While Neatline is an exceptional resource, we have a preference towards the SIMILE engine because it comes with a plugin for wordpress which is convenient. Another feature on the SIMILE engine is that it provides the user with an interface whereby they can mix and align structured data coming from different exhibits and sources.This SIMILE feature is known as potluck. This will be an exceptional useful tool for consolidating the different Frankenstein adaptations unto one interface.

Ngram: compare words related to the book as well as the frequency at which the name Frankenstein is used when.The Ngram engine could also be utilized as a documentation tool to measure the prominence of Frankenstein throughout the different time eras. Since our group has considered the option of including a timeline, we believe the Ngram will act as a resource of validity to trace the receptiveness of people to the Mary Shelley Frankenstein story, and how maybe it has influence its adaptation into cinematic culture.

Detailed Plan and Timeline

    The site will include a description of Mary Shelley’s life, and the context in which the original novel was created. Since Shelley’s image of Frankenstein emerged from anxieties with science and technology specific to the 19th century, we will use that as a basis for comparing how different adaptations of Frankenstein have reflected similar anxieties during the times in which they were created. This page will be more of an essay/ narrative, but we will illustrate with pictures in order to create visual appeal. In addition to this page that will provide context for the rest of our project, we will create a second page with a simile timeline embedded that displays different significant adaptations over time. These adaptations will include film, comics, book covers, TV shows, plays, books, and more. This will give a visual representation of changes related to technology, the nature of the monster, and the accuracy of the depiction of the story. The third page will include detailed descriptions of some particularly interesting adaptations. We will each select one or two adaptations that we find particularly useful to understanding how the story of Frankenstein has developed over time. This will allow us to go more in depth for a select number of adaptations, while still maintaining a large scope throughout the rest of our project. The last page will essentially be a catalog of all the adaptations that are plotted on the timeline. Hopefully this will be a visual catalog, but we will at least post links to where the digital resources can be found.

Timeline

The first page that will be created on our site is the centext page centered on Mary Shelley’s life and the time in which Frankenstein is written. We will aim to have it done by March 24th.

Next, we will need to install the simile plug-in and begin constructing our timeline. This can be done gradually, and we should begin researching adaptations now, adding resources to the catalog page as we go. The timeline and catalog page should be done by April 11th.

Once we have collected all of the different adaptations, we can make a final decision upon which ones are going to be spotlighted, and write a brief description of why each one is significant. These should be completed by April 21st when we present our near-complete project in class. After that, we will just need to polish the content we have produced and make sure it is the best it can be by the end of the semester.

These steps should be manageable, but if for some reason the simile plugin doesn’t function we could always layout the resources in a chronological manner on our own. If we follow these steps, we are confident we will be able to produce a useful and interesting resource.

Blog Post #2: The William Blake Archive

I was assigned to explore The William Blake Archive for this blog post.  I was intrigued by this particular site because I remembered reading The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Songs of Innocence in ENGL 3820, and I wanted to see if this website contained any more information about the works and/or more images.  I was also interested to look at Blake’s other works.  I was pleased to find a wealth of information and resources on this site.  Although the format of the site is a little dated, everything is easily accessible, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is researching William Blake.

  • What is the primary purpose of this project?

The Archive at a Glance” page states:

A free site on the World Wide Web since 1996, the Blake Archive was conceived as an international public resource that would provide unified access to major works of visual and literary art that are highly disparate, widely dispersed, and more and more often severely restricted as a result of their value, rarity, and extreme fragility.

The purpose of this site is simply to provide public access to the works of William Blake.  It contains several editions of all 19 of William Blake’s works along with extensive biographical information. This site would be an excellent resource for anyone wanting a comprehensive look at Blake’s life and masterpieces.

  • What does this project hope to do that a print resource (a book/books, a journal article, a reference work, etc.) couldn’t?

This resource is able to provide a comprehensive collection of Blake’s works and biographical information on one easy-to-use site.  With the click of the mouse or by searching in their search engines, you can have access to nearly every piece of Blake’s work.  The archive also claims to    “supply reproductions that are more accurate in color, detail, and scale than the finest commercially published photomechanical reproductions and texts that are more faithful to Blake’s own than any collected edition has provided.” They claim that their ultimate aim is to “encompass the full range of Blake’s work,” which would allow them to produce “a unique resource unlike any other currently available—a hybrid all-in-one edition, catalogue, database, and set of scholarly tools capable of taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by new information technology.”

  • What is distinctive/notable about this project’s approach to its subject matter?

This site’s dedication to produce a comprehensive, high-quality view of William Blake’s life’s work is quite remarkable.  For example, when I looked up their resources for The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, multiple editions were listed with very high-quality pictures. I was a little unnerved to discover that all of this information was free, having had to purchase a physical copy of the work for ENGL 3820!  I think it’s notable how the authors of this site desire for complete accessibility to Blake’s work. They acknowledge that this art and literature is admired worldwide, and they want to make sure that the world has easy access to this wealth of information.

However, they do have very strict copyright warnings throughout the site.  They ask that nothing be used from the site without the right permissions out of respect for the contributors to the site.  It is very apparent that they value the information stored on the site very highly, and they do not want just anybody ripping off the data.

  • How would this site/project be useful to scholars doing research?

I can see this site being extremely helpful to anyone doing research on William Blake.  The search page could help them find anything they were looking for among the vast wealth of information provided.  The editors and contributors to this site seem extremely credible.

  • Is this project designed such that it might reach a broader audience/readership than scholars doing research?

I would have found this site very interesting and helpful as a student of English, but I’m not sure that this site would reach a broader audience beyond students, teachers, and researchers.

  • Are there any aspects of this projects approach that might be useful to the project groups in our class as they conceive of, design, and implement a significantly smaller-scale digital project?

I’m not sure how many of these projects will resemble an archive, but I think that the layout of this site serves as a good model for the types of pages and categories that we should include on our site.  I think it would be helpful to have an “About” page that outlines the purpose of the site.  I also think that a search engine of some sort would be useful, but I’m pretty sure that WordPress already comes with one of those.  I would recommend looking at the physical layout of the pages as an example of what not to do.  The home page is not very attractive, and the format of multiple links rather than clickable pages is distracting at first.

I’m interested to learn more about copyright laws as we are putting together our websites.  It’s very clear that The William Blake Archive is serious about protecting the rights of their contributors, and I’m wondering what precautions we need to be taking as we are collecting resources for our digital projects.

Blog Post #1: “Anxiety” and “Depression”

I chose to look up the words anxiety and depression for this assignment.  I found it interesting that the OED’s entries regarding the psychiatric connotations of the words came from relatively the same time period:                  Depression

 

Anxiety

 

The OED marks the first mentions of depression and anxiety in the psychiatric sense in 1905 and 1909, respectively–years when the work of Sigmund Freud was becoming most prominent.

This is the Google Ngram comparison of the words.  I was expecting the words to strongly correlate and to be on the rise in the recent decades.  Here’s what it came up with:

NGram of Anxiety and Depression

Not surprisingly, depression spikes in 1935, right in the middle of the Great Depression.  I was surprised that anxiety was used pretty often in the 19th century in comparison to recently.  And my suspicions that anxiety and depression would be on the rise and correlate in recent years were confirmed.

My father is a family physician and has been noticing a rise in disorders associated with anxiety and depression in his practice.  He has seen a significant increase in children being diagnosed with ADD and ADHD in recent years, and has read many medical articles that suggest that this disorder is probably a manifestation of anxiety and/or depression.  Several medications for anxiety and depression have been developed and prescribed in recent decades.  It is very apparent by our culture that anxiety and depression are forces to be reckoned with, and it is neat to see this reflected in the Ngram.

I think that the Oxford English Dictionary and the Google Ngram viewer are great tools for historical research and word comparisons. While the Ngram has the disadvantage of misreading the connotations of the words you are trying to compare, the OED can almost counteract this by giving us the dates that correspond to the type of word usage we are looking for.

Beyond giving us a glimpse into history, I’m not sure what else the Ngram could be useful for.  I look forward to reading what everyone’s opinion on this is!