Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
  • Publication
    Systems in Language: Text Analysis of Government Reports of the Irish Industrial School System with Word Embedding
    (Oxford University Press, 2019-06-03) ; ;
    Industrial Memories is a digital humanities initiative to supplement close readings of a government report with new distant readings, using text analytics techniques. The Ryan Report (2009), the official report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA), details the systematic abuse of thousands of children 15 from 1936 to 1999 in residential institutions run by religious orders and funded and overseen by the Irish State. Arguably, the sheer size of the Ryan Report—over 1 million words— warrants a new approach that blends close readings to witness its findings, with distant readings that help surface system-wide findings embedded in the Report. Although CICA has been lauded internationally for 20 its work, many have critiqued the narrative form of the Ryan Report, for obfuscating key findings and providing poor systemic, statistical summaries that are crucial to evaluating the political and cultural context in which the abuse took place (Keenan, 2013, Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church: Gender, Power, and Organizational Culture. Oxford University Press). In this article, we concentrate on describing the distant reading methodology we adopted, using machine learning and text-analytic methods and report on what they surfaced from the 2 Report. The contribution of this work is threefold: (i) it shows how text analytics can be used to surface new patterns, summaries and results that were not apparent via close reading, (ii) it demonstrates how machine learning can be used to annotate text by using word embedding to compile domain-specific semantic lexicons for feature extraction and (iii) it demonstrates how digital humanities methods can be applied to an official state inquiry with social justice impact.
  • Publication
    Mining the Cultural Memory of Irish Industrial Schools Using Word Embedding and Text Classification
    The Industrial Memories project aims for new distant (i.e., text analytic) and close readings (i.e., witnessing) of the 2009 Ryan Report, the report of the Irish Government’s investigation into abuse at Irish Industrial Schools. The project has digitised the Report and used techniques such as word embedding and automated text classification using machine learning to re-present the Report’s key findings in novel ways that better convey its contents. The Ryan Report exposes the horrific details of systematic abuse of children in Irish industrial schools between 1920 and 1990. It contains 2,600 pages with over 500,000 words detailing evidence from the 9- year-long investigation. However, the Report’s narrative form and its sheer length effectively make many of it findings quite opaque. The Industrial Memories project uses text analytics to examine the language of the Report, to identify recurring patterns and extract key findings. The project represents the Report via an exploratory web-based interface that supports further analysis of the text. The methodology outlined is scalable and suggests new approaches to such voluminous state documents.
  • Publication
    Industrial Memories: Exploring the Findings of Government Inquiries with Neural Word Embedding and Machine Learning
    We present a text mining system to support the exploration of large volumes of text detailing the findings of government inquiries. Despite their historical significance and potential societal impact, key findings of inquiries are often hidden within lengthy documents and remain inaccessible to the general public. We transform the findings of the Irish government’s inquiry into industrial schools and through the use of word embedding, text classification and visualization, present an interactive web-based platform that enables the exploration of the text in new ways to uncover new historical insights.
      491Scopus© Citations 1
  • Publication
    Re-reading the Ryan report: Witnessing via close and distant reading
    (Irish-American Cultural Institute, 2017-10-04) ; ;
    In the days following the publication of the Final Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (2009), also known as the Ryan Report, there was widespread national and international public reaction to the conclusions of the report that over the course of nine decades abuse had been severe and systemic in the Irish residential-institution system for children run by the religious congregations of the Catholic church.
      493Scopus© Citations 7
  • Publication
    Body of Evidence: Performing Hunger
    (Palgrave, 2014-02)
    Post-conflict films of the Northern Irish Troubles are, overwhelmingly, male-dominated narratives. These screen stories are marked not by representations of militarized masculinities, but by victimized masculinity and the struggle for masculine definition. This has less to do with the wider-scale perceived ‘crisis in masculinity’ which inflects British films such as The Full Monty (Peter Cattaneo, 1997) and Irish films such as I Went Down (Paddy Breathnach, 1997), and more to do with creating a post-conflict masculinity that audiences can identify with in the context of the peace process and, in this context, that audiences can extend understanding and forgiveness to. Thistrend is particularly noticeable in films about the 1981 Hunger Strike.
  • Publication
    The Tyranny of Memory: Remembering the Great War in Frank McGuinness's Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme
    (Edinburgh University Press, 2010-05)
    First produced at the Peacock Theatre in 1985, Frank McGuinness’s Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, has gone on to become an iconic First World War play, and has had several landmark productions, not least of which was when it was performed at the Abbey in 1994 to an audience of Ulster Unionists, as an acknowledgment of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. McGuinness states that in writing Observe the Sons of Ulster 'it was an eye-opener for a Catholic Republican, as I am, to have to examine the complexity, diversity, disturbance and integrity of the other side, the Protestant people.' In this play there is thus a conscious engagement with a competing mythology, and the challenges of crossing the barrier between self and other. And this spirit of necessary but difficult exploration of self and other is the foundational ground for the play; the process that McGuinness went through in writing the play, is thus the same process that the characters go through within the play.
  • Publication
    'This is what I need you to do to make it right': Conor McPherson's I Went Down
    (Carysfort Press, 2012-09)
    Conor McPherson’s first film project, I Went Down (1997), is all about screwing it up, then making it right. The film follows the fortunes of two hapless and somewhat accidental gangsters as they careen around the Irish countryside in a series of stolen cars desperately seeking a fugitive and a set of forged dollar printing-plates. McPherson’s characters are familiar types: inarticulate Irish men trapped in narrow identities because of their inability to change. Yet what makes I Went Down a successful black comedy is the way the McPherson’s screenplay, and the finished film, modulate these character types with a genial humanity that is, in the end, redemptive.
  • Publication
    Commemorating Abuse: Gender Politics and Making Space
    (University College Dublin, 2013-08)
    Recent cultural explorations of Ireland's history of institutional abuse have focussed on buildings as ways of creating a commemorative space for this history. Brokentalkers' The Blue Boy (2011), Anu Productions' Laundry (2011), and Evelyn Glynn's Breaking the Rule of Silence (2011) all insist on the visibility and presence of these institutions within towns and communities. All three works foreground the necessary role of active spectatorship in commemorating this traumatic past, and in ensuring it never happens again. This active spectatorship stands in contrast to the patterns of agnosia and amnesia which maintained the system for so long. This lecture discusses the ways in which culture plays a much-needed role in the commemoration of abuse trauma. Yet culture cannot stand alone and the lecture subsequently calls for a state-led official history of Ireland's institutional past which addresses the class and gender-based operation of these institutions in a holistic system of incarceration.