Recent Posts

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 […]

Detecting footnotes in 32 million pages of ECCO

Detecting footnotes in 32 million pages of ECCO

I’m very proud to be part of the collaborative project that produced this new article in the Journal of Cultural Analytics where we outline the process we used to visually detect footnotes in 32 million page images. (Full disclosure: I am the editor and to avoid conflict […]

How do we Model Stereotypes without Stereotyping (Again)? How about information theory.

How do we Model Stereotypes without Stereotyping (Again)? How about information theory.

In a previous post, we explored how using language models and the idea of “perplexity” can allow us to study stereotypes in movie character roles using their dialogue as a basis. We examined a corpus of 750 Hollywood films, released between 1970 and 2014, and […]

Does the decline of gender within literary studies matter?

Does the decline of gender within literary studies matter?

A little while back I posted on the unmoving ratio between male/female pronouns in a data set of ~60,000 articles in literary studies. The ratio has been stable at about 2:1 since the mid-1990s. While pronouns do not tell us everything we need to know […]

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 […]