Lab encounter with Ted Underwood et al. from the School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

When: 2022-09-26 14:00-16:00 (Tallinn time)
Where: CUDAN Open Lab (online)


The event is public via zoom:

Abstract – Ted Underwood et al. from the School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois will engage in lab encounter with the CUDAN Lab.

Reception and Cultural Change

We’re going to present an interlocking set of three projects about cultural change, emphasizing especially how much can be learned from evidence about reception (e.g. book reviews, literary prizes, or comments in online reading communities). Reviews are commonly understood as documents that tell us how individual books were evaluated or interpreted. But in the aggregate, reviews also reveal something about the structure of literary culture, and its relation to change. Do new themes and styles emerge at an avant-garde “cutting edge” — for instance, in books reviewed in little magazines? Or are the mainstream forms of attention directed at bestsellers and prizewinners actually better at predicting future trends?

The three projects we’re presenting use data drawn from the 1880s to the present, mostly works of fiction and their (printed or online) reviews. Two of the three projects focus on English-language texts; the third compares English-language and Chinese-language reception of works written in a number of world languages.

We’ll also present a related project on poetry:

“Genre Classification in English Poetry with Lexical and Prosodic Features,” Wenyi Shang and Ted Underwood, DH2022, July 2022. We classified 30,704 English poems to investigate the relative importance of lexical and prosodic features, and found that while ballads and metrical psalms are distinguished by the diction used, sonnets and heroic couplets are defined by prosodic features, suggesting the possibility of disentangling “form” from other aspects of “genre.”

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