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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.
Connectivity. A Conference

Connectivity. A Conference

Looking forward to this event tomorrow. Bringing together researchers from different disciplines to develop models of cultural connectivity. Connectivity has become the dominant framework through which contemporary knowledge is increasingly understood. From networks to clouds to close reading to reconstructing historical social worlds, making connections is at the core of what...
Latest entries
Is Open Science a Neo-Liberal Tool? Here's why not.

Is Open Science a Neo-Liberal Tool? Here’s why not.

Last week Philip Mirowski gave a spirited polemic at Concordia University called, “What is Open Science supposed to fix?” Openness has become the new buzzword du jour. Who would be against openness? But do we really know what this word means? Over the course of an hour Mirowski made the case that open science is nothing less...
Re-Boot Camp 2017!

Re-Boot Camp 2017!

Announcing Re-Boot Camp 2017! Come spend a week in Montreal to learn new skills in the computational analysis of literature at McGill University’s .txtLAB. During five full-day classes you will gain hands-on experience in applying techniques from the world of natural language processing and text analysis, including machine learning, topic modeling, sentiment analysis, and social network...
LIWC for Literature: Releasing Data on 25,000 Documents

LIWC for Literature: Releasing Data on 25,000 Documents

Increasing emphasis is being placed in the humanities on sharing data. Projects like the Open Syllabus Project, for example, have made a tremendous effort in discovering, collecting, and cleaning large amounts of data relevant to humanities research. Much of our data, however, is still locked-up behind copyright and paywalls within university libraries, even when the underlying...
Congratulations to Eva Portelance ARIA Intern for 2016

Congratulations to Eva Portelance ARIA Intern for 2016

Eva Portelance presented her work this past week that was completed under an Arts Undergraduate Research Internship (ARIA). Her project focuses on the computational detection of narrative frames. It involves three steps that include a theoretical definition of a frame, writing code to detect narrative frames and comparing those to existing methods of text segmentation, and...
Academic Prestige and Publishing

Academic Prestige and Publishing

Very excited to announce the acceptance of a new article co-authored with Chad Wellmon that will be appearing in Critical Inquiry. The article, “Publication, Power, and Patronage: On Inequality and Academic Publishing,” addresses the unequal concentration of elite institutions within prominent humanities journals. Our goal is to begin to shed light on the academic publication system with a...
Culture + Computation: New Syllabus in Cultural Analytics LLCU 614

Culture + Computation: New Syllabus in Cultural Analytics LLCU 614

  I am pleased to add this year’s syllabus for my graduate course, “LLCU 614, Cultural Analytics: The Computational Study of Culture.” The aim of the course is twofold: 1) to introduce students in the humanities to the computational and quantitative methods for studying culture in order to move beyond the use of anecdotal evidence and...
Fictionality

Fictionality

I am pleased to announce the publication of a new piece I have written that appears today in CA: Journal of Cultural Analytics. The aim of the piece is to take a first look at the ways in which fictional language distinguishes itself from non-fiction using computational approaches. When authors set out to write an...
The Humanities: Theory Rich, Evidence Poor

The Humanities: Theory Rich, Evidence Poor

At some point, theory was declared over. Which was a polite way of saying we can get back to doing what we’ve always done. Which, it turns out, was theory. The humanities represent an amazing collection of individuals who have over the ages developed an extraordinary array of theories about people, the past, creativity, and social life....
Why your dissertation needs data

Why your dissertation needs data

Dear Future Graduate Students, It’s that time of year to start thinking about grad school. Recruiting is not easy for me. My general sentiment around graduate training is, let them decide. Advertising or persuasion is for places like Trump University not scholarship. But I think we are at a bit of a crossroads in our field...
Identity: NovelTM Annual Workshop 2016

Identity: NovelTM Annual Workshop 2016

I am very pleased to announce the upcoming workshop for the NovelTM research group. This year’s theme is “Identity” and will be taking place at the Banff Research Centre in Banff, Alberta. For two days participants will meet and share new work that uses computational modelling to understand the various ways that novels construct identity...
Beyond Polarization: Studying Books, Readers, and Political Affiliation

Beyond Polarization: Studying Books, Readers, and Political Affiliation

I have a new study out with my collaborator Richard Jean So that appeared in the Guardian, which shows ways of finding cultural commonality in our age of political polarization. Using the site Goodreads, we identify collections of books that both liberals and conservatives like to read. We show how these books drive different kinds of reader behaviour, prompting...
CA Fall Preview: Food, Folklore and Lots of Novels

CA Fall Preview: Food, Folklore and Lots of Novels

We have some exciting new material that will be appearing shortly in CA: Journal of Cultural Analytics, which I thought I would share here. Dan Jurafsky, Victor Chahuneau, Bryan R. Routledge, and Noah A. Smith will have a new piece out on the relationship between food menus and social class. As they argue in their...