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Welcome to .txtLAB, a digital humanities laboratory at McGill University directed by Andrew Piper. We explore the use of computational and quantitative approaches towards understanding literary and cultural phemonena in both the past and present. Our aim is to engage in critical and creative uses of the tools of network science, machine learning, or image processing to think about language, literature, and culture at both the large and small scale.
.txtLAB Internship Winter 2015

.txtLAB Internship Winter 2015

.txtLAB is offering 3 internships for the Winter Semester available to undergraduate and graduate students. The internships will involve participation in lab research and the creation and completion of individual projects in cultural data mining. The internships will run from Feb. 1 through April 30. Application deadline is January 15,...
Text Mining the Novel

Text Mining the Novel

We have been awarded a major Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for $1.8 million towards the quantitative study of the novel. “Text Mining the Novel: Establishing the Foundations of a New Discipline” involves researchers and partners from 21 different academic and non-academic institutions. Our aim...
Digging into Data Award

Digging into Data Award

We learned that we have been awarded a Digging into Data Grant for our project, “Global Currents: Cultures of Literary Networks, 1050-1900.” Our project will undertake the cross-cultural study of literary networks in a global context, ranging from post-classical Islamic philosophy to the European Enlightenment. Integrating new image-processing techniques with...
The Poetic Body

The Poetic Body

What can knowledge of the shape of a poet’s corpus tell us about that writing or indeed about the nature of the corpus as such? In this project we model different poets’ corpuses in three languages from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries as evolutionary networks. Our aim is to...
The Sociability of Detection

The Sociability of Detection

How do communities arrive at the truth? In this project, we are studying the history of imagined social networks within the genre of detective fiction, from the early nineteenth century to the late twentieth. We are interested in how interactions among characters produce different historical understandings of the social construction...
Conversionial Reading

Conversionial Reading

We are interested in studying the legacy of Augustinian conversion in the age of modern autobiography. What happens to a notion of the conversional life in a secular world? We found that the poetics of conversion lives on most strongly in the genre of the modern novel and not autobiography....
The Werther Effect

The Werther Effect

In what ways does Goethe’s Werther live on in eighteenth-century writing? This project seeks to develop new ways of understanding textual circulation across national boundaries. How can we develop maps of affective communities of reading? For an overview of the project, go here. For the project summary, here.
Latest entries
The Eighteenth-Century Family

The Eighteenth-Century Family

    This animation represents the emotional network of the family in the eighteenth-century novel. It measures the co-occurrence of emotions and family members within sentences in a sample of eighty novels in English published between 1750-1800. It begins with the most strongly weighted connection (“man”-“good”) and then gradually grows to include the entire network....
Emotion Networks in the Novel

Emotion Networks in the Novel

For my ongoing project on the history of emotions in the novel, I thought I’d post a first pass of emotion networks that appear in the Romantic Novel versus the Postwar Novel. The networks are based on emotion words that occur in the same sentence. The more often emotions appear in the same sentence the stronger their...

PhD Fellowship in German and Digital Humanities @ .txtLAB

As part of the multi-university partnership, “NovelTM: Text Mining the Novel,” .txtLAB is sponsoring a 5 year fellowship open to students with a background in German literature or cultural studies and a demonstrated interest in digital humanities. The fellow will be part of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at McGill University and an active...
World Authorship: Three Computational Frameworks

World Authorship: Three Computational Frameworks

The following is a condensed version of a talk I delivered recently at Lancaster University in the UK as part of the research project on “Authors and the World.” Both “world” and “authorship” are complex terms that have, on the one hand, very straightforward meanings – the world is coincident with everything on the globe...
NovelTM

NovelTM

This partnership brings together 21 researchers and partners from academic and non-academic institutions in order to produce the first large-scale, cross-cultural study of the novel according to quantitative methods. Ever since its putative rise in the eighteenth century, the novel has emerged as a central means of expressing what it means to be modern. And yet...
Footnote Detection

Footnote Detection

What does it take to understand a page visually at the machine level? That is our guiding question and one that we are initially applying to the problem of detecting footnotes in a large corpus of German Enlightenment periodicals. Why footnotes? According to much received literary critical wisdom, one of the defining features of the...

Early Modern Debates About Gender Equality

I am pleased to announce that .txtLAB will be collaborating with Prof. Marguerite Deslauriers from the Department of Philosophy at McGill. Our project concerns debates about the equality of the sexes in early modern treatises written by both men and women. This project is an Insight Grant funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council...
New Course! Big Data and Literature: Intro to Literary Text Mining

New Course! Big Data and Literature: Intro to Literary Text Mining

I’m posting the syllabus to my new course Introduction to Literary Text Mining for those who are interested. The most challenging part is teaching material that I didn’t experience myself as a student — the easiest, and often the best, way to teach is to build on great seminars you had as a student. Well, this...

We’re Hiring! Seeking a project manager.

.txtLAB is hiring a Project Manager to oversee a variety of international and multidisciplinary research projects. Projects involve the application of computational and quantitative analysis to the study of literature and culture in a global context with over 20 partners from across North America and Europe. The position affords the opportunity to develop a dynamic...
Where did all the love go? Feelings in the novel.

Where did all the love go? Feelings in the novel.

I have been increasingly focusing on the history of feeling in the novel, especially as a way of differentiating feeling from sentiment analysis. Emotions aren’t the same as sentiments, as they are commonly defined today (and usually only in binary fashion — happy/unhappy or positive/negative). Instead, I was interested in the ways different kinds of emotions change...
When innovation isn't

When innovation isn’t

Having moved through two models of poetic careers — the compaction of Whitman and the expansion of Goethe — I thought I had found a third model in the case of William Wordsworth. Using the same measures as before, I found that it was Wordsworth’s middle period that registered as the most “innovative” or experimental....
Blue Periods: On Aging and Writing

Blue Periods: On Aging and Writing

As a follow-up to my last post on Whitman, I wanted to explore more examples of how writing develops over the course of a poet’s career. As I wrote there, I’m interested in using network theory to better understand how a poet’s career might have a particular shape or orientation, indeed, how one might visualize...