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CLT seminar: Matthew Jockers - Tracking Valence and Plot in 50,000 Narratives: A Macroanalysis

SEMINAR

Jockers will open his lecture with an argument about the applicability of quantitative methods to literary studies. He'll offer his answer to the "so what" question that is frequently asked by humanists who are unaccustomed to thinking about literature as data on the one hand and quantitative evidence on the other.

After sketching the broad outlines of how quantitative data might and should be employed in literary studies, Jockers will move to a "proof of concept" derived from his own recent work charting plot structure in 50,000 narratives. In this section Jockers will discuss how he employed tools and techniques from natural language processing, sentiment analysis, signal processing, and machine learning in order to extract and compare the plot structures of novels in a corpus of texts spanning the two hundred year period from 1800-2011.

He'll explore the six core plot archetypes revealed by the technique and how these shapes change from the 19th to the 20th century. He'll then compare the plot structures of 1,800 contemporary best sellers to the larger corpus in order to suggest that at least one element of market success is related to plot shape.

Matthew L. Jockers is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Faculty Fellow in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, and Director of the Nebraska Literary Lab. He oversees UNL’s post baccalaureate Certificate in Digital Humanities, and he serves as the faculty advisor for the minor in Digital Humanities. Prior to Nebraska, Jockers was a Lecturer and Academic Technology Specialist in the Department of English at Stanford where he co-founded the Stanford Literary Lab with Franco Moretti.

Jockers’s research is focused on computational approaches to the study of literature, especially large collections of literature. He has written articles on computational text analysis, authorship attribution, Irish and Irish-American literature, and he has co-authored several successful amicus briefs defending the fair and transformative use of digital text. Jockers’s books include Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History (UIUC Press 2013) and Text Analysis with R for Students of Literature (forthcoming from Springer in May 2013). Jockers's work has been profiled in the academic and main stream press including features in the New York Times, Nature, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Nautilus, Wired, New Scientist, Smithsonian, NBC News and many others.

Jockers's Gothenburg visit is partly funded by Kungliga Vitterhetsakademien.

Date: 2014-03-27 10:30 - 11:30

Location: L308, Lennart Torstenssonsgatan 8

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Page updated: 2014-02-16 18:58

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