On May 22-23, 2015, the Global Literary Networks group will host a major conference at the University of Chicago called “Cultural Analytics: Computational Approaches to the Study of Culture.” The event will bring together faculty and graduate students working at the intersection of literary history and applied computational analysis. This field has been growing for some time, but there have been few opportunities for a sustained discussion of the methodological challenges and opportunities afforded by new digital tools and techniques. Bringing together scholars who specialize in a diverse range of literatures and time periods, this conference aspires to galvanize the formation of “cultural analytics” as a distinct and coherent sub-field in literary studies.
- Global Literary Networks Group (Hoyt Long, Tom McEnaney, Richard So)
- Stanford Literary Lab (Franco Moretti, Mark Algee-Hewitt, Ryan Heuser)
- Northeastern University Viral Texts Lab (Ryan Cordell, Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, David Smith)
- Tanya Clement (University of Texas)
- Marissa Gemma (Max-Planck Institute)
- Natalie Houston (University of Houston)
- Matthew Jockers (University of Nebraska)
- Meredith Martin (Princeton)
- Andrew Piper (McGill)
- Matthew Wilkins (Notre Dame)
- Ted Underwood (University of Illinois)
- Amy Hungerford (Yale)
Participants will present work in progress, addressing both the concrete technical challenges of computational methods and the theoretical implications of merging them with more traditional approaches. To further enhance the collaborative ethos of the event, we will also host a Graduate Student Caucus so that younger scholars will have an opportunity to contribute to these conversations and share their own ideas about the impact of this emerging new sub-field. More details will be available in the coming months at the conference’s official website.
“Cultural Analytics” is generously supported by the University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society.
The Global Literary Networks Project will be taking part in the new “Digital Exhibitions” event at the 2014 meeting of the Modernist Studies Association. The event will be from 9am to 1pm, on Friday, November 7. Please stop by our exhibit to talk with us about the project, explore some of our datasets on modernist poetry, and hear about current case studies. A general description of the project, and of the book that will result from this research (Patterns Taken for Wonder: A Computational History of Modernism), can be found on our website.
Team member Tom McEnaney recently presented this new working paper at our Data as Critique conference (figures available here). The paper represents the first work to come out of the lab that examines the application of computational methods to the Latin American context. Using a dataset of more than 8,000 poems published across 50 Latin American journals between 1910 and 1945, McEnaney shows how network analysis reorients our understanding of intra-regional literary dynamics under modernism while generating new cultural maps of the Americas.
On May 9th, the Global Literary Networks team will host a one-day conference bringing together new scholarship on the history and sociology of global culture. The conference highlights research that cuts across the traditional division of qualitative methods (hermeneutics, historicism) from quantitative or data-driven ones (text-mining, network analysis). A major goal of the conference is to explore how large-scale computational techniques can extend an already century old dialogue between scholars in the humanistic and social sciences (e.g., literature and linguistics; history and statistics; art and sociology).
“Data as Critique” is an opportunity to bring our project into contact with scholars from a variety of fields—including sociology, computer science, and comparative literature—who are working on related questions of scale. Some major questions we hope to explore include: how do new computational tools, such as natural language processing, alter our conception of what “texts” or cultural objects are? How can we reconcile traditional human forms of interpretation with the epistemology of computers and machine algorithms? How can we scale up analytical attention to individual aesthetic texts so as to perceive broader patterns and systems of relation and thought?
The conference will consist of two sessions: one devoted to “networks” and the other focused on “texts.” Each session will include three presentations followed by a roundtable discussion led by two University of Chicago faculty. The goal of each roundtable will be to brainstorm and extend the ideas of the talks in an informal way, both among panelists and with the audience. In sum, the conference aims to create a space where faculty and students from the humanities, sciences, and social sciences can engage in dialogue about data as a critical method for the interpretation of culture.
For more details about the conference (including abstracts), or to register to attend, please visit the following site. The conference is funded by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society. Additional funding for Global Literary Networks comes from the University of Chicago Knowledge Lab.
- Michael Bourdaghs, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Chicago
- James Evans, Sociology, Chicago
- Frances Ferguson, English, Chicago
- Jacob Foster, Sociology, UCLA
- Jennifer Lena, Sociology, Columbia
- Hoyt Long, East Asian Languages & Civilizations, Chicago
- Thomas McEnaney, Comparative Literature, Cornell
- Andrew Piper, German Studies, McGill
- Elizabeth Pontikes, Booth School of Business, Chicago
- Richard Jean So, English, Chicago
- Denis Tenen, English, Columbia
These two talks were delivered by Hoyt and Richard at the recent MLA 2014 conference in Chicago.
The Haiku Meme: Imitation and Influence in American Modernism (slides) [session #155]
Who is Thomas Curtis Clark? Modernist Networks of Exclusion (slides) [session #233]
Thank you to Andrew Goldstone (Rutgers), Amy Hungerford (Yale), Matthew Jockers (Nebraska), Andrew Piper (McGill), Haun Saussy (Chicago), and Ted Underwood (Illinois) for making these such rich and productive sessions. Andrew Piper’s paper on “The Wertherian Exotext” can be found at his website. The responses by Ted and Haun to our first session on “Literature at the Macroscale” can be found here and here. Slides for Andrew Goldstone’s talk, as well as a description of our second panel on “Seeing with Numbers,” are also up here.
The Global Literary Networks team is also doing a second panel at MLA 2014 with Andrew Piper, associate professor at McGill. Haun Saussy (Chicago) and Ted Underwood (Illinois) will be doing the responses. While our other panel focuses on issues specific to American modernism, this panel attends more to the relationship between comparative literature-transnational studies and “big data” computational approaches. We’re really excited to be presenting with Haun, a distinguished scholar in comparative literature and Ted, a pioneer in computational literary criticism. Please check out our panel abstract if you’d like to learn more. Thanks!
MLA 2014 Macro Scale
At the upcoming Modern Language Association Conference in Chicago, we will be presenting new work as part of the special session Seeing with Numbers: Sociological and Macroanalytic Approaches to Literary Exclusion. The session is co-organized with Andrew Goldstone (Rutgers), who will also be presenting a paper. Amy Hungerford (Yale) and Matthew Jockers (University of Nebraska) will be serving as respondents. For details, please see the panel abstract.
Our article on “Network Analysis and the Sociology of Modernism” has now officially made it into print. Special thanks to the editorial staff at Boundary 2 for their help with revising the manuscript and with the layout of the gray-scale images. Color figures can be found here. Thanks also to those who have been so generous with their comments and critical feedback.
We’ve just completed a new working paper titled, “Translation Networks in the World Republic of Letters” (slides are here). This paper extends our project into the study of textual circulation and diffusion, specifically as revealed through publication networks. We outline some provisional concepts for thinking about the circulation of translated material on a macro-scale, with a focus on early-twentieth-century poetic trade between the US and Japan. Because this was written as a talk, parts of the argument and much of the supporting evidence have been abbreviated. A more complete version of the paper is forthcoming. Any and all feedback is welcome!
Hoyt Long recently presented some work from the Global Literary Networks project at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, held this year in San Diego. His talk introduced some of the potential applications of social network analysis for the study of avant-garde poetry movements in Japan. It also raised questions about the use of scale in literary history. The talk can be downloaded here. Thank you to Song Chen for organizing the panel, as well as to fellow panel members Jack Chen, Elijah Meeks, Stephen West, and Jamie Yoo. Thank you as well to audience members for your insightful questions, positive responses, and healthy skepticism.