My Independent Study analyzes individual responses from Goodreads book clubs that discussed race and gender-related themes in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (2016). Through topic-based sentiment analysis, I reveal the members’ change from positive to negative sentiment on gender and race-related categories. In order to understand how the members change their opinions, I contextualize the same individual responses through literary criticism, critical race theory, and feminist theory to analyze the members’ arguments. While the members touch on aspects of feminist and critical race theory, their reliance on traditional gender roles and dedication to historical accuracy ultimately limits their ability to imitate theoretical frameworks. Through this study, I combine digital analysis and literary analysis techniques to create a complementary partnership by extending opportunities that exist in sentiment analysis through literary close reading on online platforms.


Hayward, Jennifer

Second Advisor

Orta, David


English; Sociology and Anthropology


Digital Humanities | Gender and Sexuality | Literature in English, North America | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Race and Ethnicity


online book clubs, sentiment analysis, Goodreads, The Handmaid's Tale, The Underground Railroad, feminism, history

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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