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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.
Projects
The Visibility of Knowledge

The Visibility of Knowledge

I am very pleased to announce that our new collaboration with Chad Wellmon and Mohamed Cheriet has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The project is called “The Visibility of Knowledge: The Computational Study of Scientific Illustration in the Long Nineteenth Century.” Our aim is to study how scientific knowledge became...
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...

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...
Digging into Data: Global Currents

Digging into Data: Global Currents

What can you learn from the visual features of a page? This is the question that lies at the centre of our digging into data project, the awards for which were announced yesterday.  A vast amount of our textual heritage has so far been resistant to large-scale data analysis, whether it is non-western scripts or...
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 better understand how a body...
Character Networks

Character Networks

In this project we are working on extracting and analyzing social networks in literature. From detective fiction to the nineteenth- to- twentieth-century novel, how do different social structures of characters relate to the history of genre, plot, or meaning? See our papers in publications related to the study of character.
Conversional Reading

Conversional Reading

This project is about 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? Building a model of conversional plot detection, I  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.