Counting and Reading

Counting and Reading

I recently wrote a reflection piece on the relationship between quantity and reading for a new volume on “Further Reading” by Leah Price and Matthew Rubery. The collection contains a number of amazing contributions and I encourage you to have a look. In my piece 

Are characters really all that special?

Are characters really all that special?

Browsing through the history of literature, you are likely to find authors poking fun at their characters for just being words on the page. As George Eliot writes in Middlemarch, “‘He has got no good red blood in his body,’ said Sir James. ‘No somebody put 

How can we understand characters using data?

How can we understand characters using data?

So for my first post, I want to discuss techniques that you can use to find and understand “characters” in literary texts. The tool I will be discussing is called BookNLP and is developed by David Bamman at UC Berkeley. It is a wonderful resource 

It’s character month

It’s character month

It’s character month at txtLAB, which means I will be talking a lot about characters in books this month (not the ethical kind of character that David Brooks likes). My first post will be about the overall lack of semantic distinction surrounding characters. In other 

A Sense of an Ending: Poetry and Periods

A Sense of an Ending: Poetry and Periods

As part of my on-going fascination with punctuation, in Enumerations I look at the words that are most likely to be followed by a period in a collection of 75,000 twentieth-century poems. What we see are the very pronounced ways that poems tend to end 

On Colons, or Standardization in Literary Studies

On Colons, or Standardization in Literary Studies

Sometimes things don’t need to be complicated. Have you ever wondered about the convention of using colons in titles of academic articles? As in, “Here’s my big idea: now let me narrow it down for you”? Well, I’ve never actually seen something that exhibits this 

Did we already know that?

Did we already know that?

For anyone who has ever given a talk using computational methods the response, “But didn’t we already know that?”, looms large in your consciousness. Nothing feels more deflating…and frustrating. I always want to respond, well, we believed we knew it and now we have more 

The Coding Turn in the Humanities

The Coding Turn in the Humanities

As part of my new book, I have made the code and all derived text data freely available online. The underlying text data has been shared as far as copyright restrictions would allow. As I mentioned in my initial post, this entailed a massive amount