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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.
Posts tagged "text mining"
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....
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...
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 Constraints of Character. Introducing a Character Feature-Space Tool

The Constraints of Character. Introducing a Character Feature-Space Tool

What is it that we do with characters? And what do they do for us? Different schools of literary theory have provided different answers to these questions. For the Russian formalists, character was above all else a “type,” one that served different narrative functions, a move that has been recently reawakened in the field of...
How I predicted the Giller Prize (and still lost the challenge)

How I predicted the Giller Prize (and still lost the challenge)

This Fall we created a lab challenge to see if anyone could predict this year’s Giller Prize winner using a computer. The winner was announced last night, and it turns out I correctly predicted the winner. But I still lost the challenge. In this lies an instructive tale about humans, computers, and predicting human behaviour....

Can a computer predict a literary prize?

This evening the Giller Prize winner will be announced. For those not in the know, the Giller Prize is Canada’s most prestigious literary award. Like the Man Booker in the UK or National Book Award in the US, the Giller Prize serves as a way of signalling to Canadian readers important new fiction. It relies...

Intro to Literary Text Mining

It’s that time of year, so I’ve gone ahead and posted my new syllabus for Introduction to Literary Text Mining. It’s still a work in progress and probably always will be. However I’m beginning to get a sense of the various contours/spaces of the field and the ways those can be taught to students. The...
Upward Looking and Forward Thinking? The Stance of the Modern Novel

Upward Looking and Forward Thinking? The Stance of the Modern Novel

What would it mean for the novel to take a stance? To position itself relative to the world? How would it do so and how might we understand this positioning? At the individual level, we can imagine how certain novels are written from a particular orientation to the world,  from “below” as in the case of Notes from...
The Sweep of History

The Sweep of History

This is the second in a series of posts by .txtLAB interns. This post is authored by Magdalene Klassen. Many if not most contemporary historians would probably agree with the statement that “the typical mode of explanation used by historians [is] narrative.” (Roberts 2001) Storytelling, then, is not the difference between history and fiction. Instead, we...
Prizewinners versus Bestsellers. Timeless Reads or the Spotlight of Fame

Prizewinners versus Bestsellers. Timeless Reads or the Spotlight of Fame

This post is the first in a series by this year’s .txtLAB interns. It is authored by Eva Portelance. Building Corpuses The first step in our search for answers required that we build solid corpuses for comparison. The PW corpus was selected from five main literary awards given in the United-States, Canada and Britain. These...
Congratulations to this year's .txtLAB interns!

Congratulations to this year’s .txtLAB interns!

The .txtLAB internship program held its end of the semester presentations this past week. Projects ranged from the study of prize-winning novels, comparisons of nineteenth-century histories, novels, and philosophy in three languages, the construction of an iPython notebook for reliably extracting social networks from novels, and finally a study of citation networks between supervisors and their...