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Welcome to .txtLAB, a laboratory for cultural analytics at McGill University directed by Andrew Piper. We explore the use of computational and quantitative approaches towards understanding literature and culture 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 large and small scale.
Gender Equality
Investigating Topic Bias and Gender Representation in Syllabi

Investigating Topic Bias and Gender Representation in Syllabi

We were disheartened to find that courses at McGill upheld gender bias, and across all faculties, male authors largely overwhelmed female authors. Topic bias occurs when certain topics are disproportionately associated with specific genders. For example, we know that in book reviews female authors are more often associated with topics that are traditionally coded as...
The Problem of (Gender) Binaries

The Problem of (Gender) Binaries

In their simplest form, computers work in binary. There are ones, and there are zeros and all the rest is context and combinations building more and more complex functions off of that binary. So it is maybe unsurprising that at .txtLAB, when we are dealing with complex entities like characters in a novel, we want...
Cultural Advocacy Internship - "Gender Bias in Book Reviews"

Cultural Advocacy Internship – “Gender Bias in Book Reviews”

We are excited to announce the 2017-2018 Internship in Cultural Advocacy, focusing on gender bias in book reviews. The internship will address how women are both mis-represented and under-represented in the public discourse of book reviewing. Book reviews represent a significant cultural outlet that bestows authority, but as our lab’s new website called “Just Review” shows, there are a...
Just Review, a student led project on gender bias in book reviewing

Just Review, a student led project on gender bias in book reviewing

For years, women have been aware that their books are less likely to get reviewed in the popular press and they are also less likely to serve as reviewers of books. Projects like VIDA and CWILA were started to combat this kind of exclusion. Over time they have managed to make some change happen in the industry....
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...
Why do book reviews still treat women like it's the 19th Century?

Why do book reviews still treat women like it’s the 19th Century?

I have a new piece out with my collaborator Richard Jean So at The New Republic that explores gender bias in book reviews. Looking at a sample of 10,000 book reviews published in The New York Times since 2000, we found a disappointing story about how reviews of women’s books overwhelmingly skew towards family and...

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...