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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.
The Sweep of History

The Sweep of History

This is the second in a series of posts by .txtLAB interns. This post is authored by Magdalene Klassen. Many if not most contemporary historians would probably agree with the statement that “the typical mode of explanation used by historians [is] narrative.” (Roberts 2001) Storytelling, then, is not the difference between...
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Prizewinners versus Bestsellers. Timeless Reads or the Spotlight of Fame

Prizewinners versus Bestsellers. Timeless Reads or the Spotlight of Fame

This post is the first in a series by this year’s .txtLAB interns. It is authored by Eva Portelance. Building Corpuses The first step in our search for answers required that we build solid corpuses for comparison. The PW corpus was selected from five main literary awards given in the United-States, Canada and Britain. These...
Congratulations to this year's .txtLAB interns!

Congratulations to this year’s .txtLAB interns!

The .txtLAB internship program held its end of the semester presentations this past week. Projects ranged from the study of prize-winning novels, comparisons of nineteenth-century histories, novels, and philosophy in three languages, the construction of an iPython notebook for reliably extracting social networks from novels, and finally a study of citation networks between supervisors and their...
The New Young Adult Fiction. More Human, More Me.

The New Young Adult Fiction. More Human, More Me.

What difference does an editor make? This was the question posed by a recent profile of the highly successful editor of young adult fiction, Julie Strauss-Gabel, who manages the imprint Dutton Children’s Books. Her titles have consistently performed well over recent years and it was a timely reminder of the impact that a good editor can...

Weird Idea Wednesday: Are sentences like shopping carts?

I’ve decided to introduce a new series to our lab. It’s called Weird Idea Wednesday and the idea is to throw out something a little whacky but potentially interesting. Our field is in its infancy and there is no road map. Weird ideas have an important role to play, even if they help profile the...
Goodreads v. Amazon

Goodreads v. Amazon

What difference does book-selling make for book reviews? This is the topic of our new paper accepted at the International Conference on Web and Social Media 2015 (ICWSM) that I have co-authored with Stefan Dimitrov and Derek Ruths of the Network Dynamics Lab here at McGill. Looking at 2.5 million reviews from the two platforms, we are...
Validation and Subjective Computing

Validation and Subjective Computing

Like many others I have been following the debate between Matthew Jockers and Annie Swafford regarding the new syuzhet R package created by Jockers, which has been given a very nice storified version by Eileen Clancy. As others have pointed out, the best part of the exchange has been the civility and depth of replies,...
Modelling Plot: On the "conversional novel"

Modelling Plot: On the “conversional novel”

I am pleased to announce the acceptance of a new piece that will be appearing soon in New Literary History. In it, I explore techniques for identifying narratives of conversion in the modern novel in German, French and English. A great deal of new work has been circulating recently that addresses the question of plot structures within different genres...
.txtLAB Intern Fedor Karmanov speaks at ARIA Event

.txtLAB Intern Fedor Karmanov speaks at ARIA Event

Form .txtLAB intern and current undergraduate RA, Fedor Karmanov, presented his experience as an Arts Research Intern last summer to an audience of over 200 students and faculty last night at a packed event showcasing undergraduate research. As Fedor described his experience, he spent the summer learning about data collection and analysis and taught himself in the process...

Another New Course! Graduate Seminar in “Cultural Analytics” offered this semester

Pleased to announce LLCU 609, “Cultural Analytics: The Computational Study of Culture.” It offers an overview of the field, with an emphasis on text analysis, stylistics, sentiment analysis, topic modelling, social network analysis and visual culture. So far we have eight different disciplines represented in a class of about 18 students. Nice to see how...
.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, 2015. For more information, please...
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...