SIG DLS Activities and COVID-19


The global COVID-19 pandemic also affects the SIG DLS.

Our forthcoming Workshop on “Tool Criticism 3.0, originally scheduled for DH2020 at Ottawa, Canada, will not take place in in-person format. We will keep you posted as to new developments.

The SIG-DLS endorsed workshop “Finally, a Tool! Introducing CATMA for Identification and Metaphor Analysis with MIPVU,” originally scheduled for RaAM 2020 at Hamar, Norway, has been canceled. 

SIG DLS endorses Metaphor Workshop at International Conference of Association for Researching and Applying Metaphor in June 2020

We are delighted to point all scholars interested in metaphor analysis to the Pre-Conference Workshop “Finally, a Tool! Introducing CATMA for Identification and Metaphor Analysis with MIPVU” taking place on 18 June 2020 as part of the International Conference of the Association for Researching and Applying Metaphor (RaAM) at Hamar, Norway.


Information about the workshop

When researching real-world contexts, scholars need a valid procedure for identifying and analyzing metaphorically used language. This means that they need a handle for systematically gauging the reliability of annotations, possibly for ensuing machine learning, but also a way of spotting patterns and principles behind creative and otherwise ‘messy’ cases. One such procedure for metaphor identification is MIPVU, the Metaphor Identification Procedure Vrije Universiteit (Steen et al. 2010), which celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2020. Originally developed at VU Amsterdam, it is now being widely used in research projects around the globe, being adapted for different languages (see Nacey et al. [in press] Metaphor identification in multiple languages: MIPVU around the world) and different types of authentic data, including spoken and multimodal discourse (see VISMIP for visual metaphor [Sorm & Steen 2018], and FILMIP for filmic metaphor [Bort-Mir 2019]. However, many scholars are challenged by developing their own computational environment for applying MIPVU and analyzing the annotations, including reliability tests. Some use an XML editor, others MS Excel or MS Word. So far, a tool is missing that facilitates an intuitive annotation and analysis environment.

Our hands-on tutorial introduces metaphor scholars to a computational tool for applying MIPVU called CATMA, which stands for Computer Assisted Text Markup and Analysis, see CATMA was developed at the Hamburg University and is currently used by over 60 research projects worldwide. It supports collaborative annotation and analysis as well as explorative, non-deterministic practices of text annotation. It integrates text annotation, text analysis, and visualization in a web-based working environment, combining the identification of textual phenomena with their investigation in a seamless, iterative fashion. The workshop is endorsed by the Special Interest Group “Digital Literary Stylistics” (SIG-DLS; of The Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO).

Workshop format: The workshop will be hands-on. After a short run-through of the basics of MIPVU, participants will learn how to work with CATMA. This introduction to CATMA includes the core annotation and analysis functionalities, text upload, annotation and specification of annotation categories, as well as text queries of source text and its annotations. Participants will also generate the visual output of query results and learn the export of markup data in XML format. In a last section, we will discuss several methods of annotation validation, including inter-annotator agreement.

Participants will be asked to acquaint themselves with the English version of the annotation manual MIPVU in preparation. Access to language-specific MIPVU protocols from Nacey et al. (in press) may be provided upon request. Participants will, however, need no prior knowledge of computational text annotation and can work with their own laptop computers. CATMA runs on Laptop or PC (Windows, Unix or MacOS) with a current web browser (MS Explorer or Edge; Firefox, Chrome, Safari) with a mouse or touchpad (touchscreen navigation is not yet supported).

 About the organizers

J. Berenike Herrmann, Basel University, Berenike is Assistant Professor (‘Oberassistentin’) at the DHLab Basel. She is a literary/linguistics digital humanist with a track record in metaphor studies, computational stylistics, and cognitive stylistics. Among her research topics are modernist and realist literature from a comparative perspective, the epistemology and methodology of computational textual studies, and evaluative discourse on the web 2.0. She is co-developer of the original and the German MIPVU.

Jan Horstmann, Hamburg University, Jan is a digitally working literary scholar and currently coordinates the forTEXT project ( for the dissemination of digital routines, resources, and tools for text annotation and analysis. He has taught CATMA in many seminars and workshop in recent years and uses the tool especially for the annotation and analysis of German literary texts. His particular interests lie in narratological categories as well as renunciation and irony in Goethe.

Aletta G. Dorst, Leiden University, Lettie is an Assistant Professor in English Linguistics and Translation Studies at Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. Her research interests and main publications are in the fields of metaphor studies, stylistics, translation studies, genre analysis, contrastive linguistics and corpus linguistics. She was part of the team that developed MIPVU for English and Dutch, and co-author of German MIPVU. She has applied MIPVU to texts from different genres and registers and in different languages.

Nils Reiter, Stuttgart University,, has a background in natural language processing and works on the analysis of literary texts. He is principal investigator in several DH-related projects concerning dramatic, narrative and historic texts and has supervised several workshops, tutorials and classes on statistical methods for text analysis, including annotation and metaphor detection. Starting in September 2019, he will be a visiting professor at Cologne University.

Bring it on! Towards a peer-to-peer debate on replicability & theory-method fit in DLS

Since spring 2019, we’ve all been aware of the debate triggered by Nan Z. Da’s “Computational Case against Computational Literary Studies”. The article addresses methodological dimensions and among other things revealed that we still need to work on an awareness of the field in its entire breadth. Some time ago, the SIG-DLS steering committee published a statement in Cultural Analytics. You can read it here.


After all, we are A maturing field that is now ripe for some benevolent peer criticism

Although Da’s article has various problems, we think it can actually serve as a valuable pointer to discuss issues of replicability and the theory-method fit of our tools. After all, we are maturing field that is now ripe for some benevolent peer criticism!
In our SIG-endorsed workshop at the international conference DH2019 at Utrecht, we will take things from there, and engage in a peer-to-peer conversation about the how’s and what’s of our research.
With a critical look at our main types of inquiry, Mike Kestemont (Stylometry), Clémence Jacquot (Textométrie), and Steffen Pielström (Semantic Text Mining) will each ‘dissect’ one of our typical methods with regard to theoretical modelling and research questions. The ws will also address the future shape of tool inventory (DLS-TI), one of our initiatives.
Are you going to be at Utrecht? You can still register! In case you have trouble registering for the workshop post hoc (bc you’re already registered for the conference) please let us know.

The SIG-DLS Tool Inventory

Let’s create our inventory of Digital Literary Stylistics methods and tools!

This summer at DH2018, the members of SIG-DLS in situ came up with some new activities for the new season. Among these was a DLS Tool Inventory of our own, reflecting our practice, with tested and tried methods, software, tools.

Just a spreadsheet… Will it become magic?

Well, here we are: happy to share with you all a spreadsheet that will hopefully become truly awesome. Let’s create the magic together!

Please go ahead and enter the tool/method that you know well in a one-line report. Mind you, that shall be tools/methods that are real and recent, tested and tried within the last five years. Please don’t enter reports on tools created by yourself. Where possible, your one-line report shall also include a brief and constructive report on strengths and weaknesses of the tool/version that you used; on usability with regard to your research question.

Organizing a Scavenger Hunt!

The SIG-DLS is planning to organise a “scavenger hunt” initiative in collaboration with Patrick Juola. The goal of the initiative will be that of discovering new datasets for authorship attribution/stylometry, through a competition (PAN-like) approach.

As we are still in the early stages of planning, we are looking first of all for anybody who would like to join the organizing committee. We will have to brainstorm on some preliminary issues (some very practical, like deciding where to store the data, or looking for possible sponsors) and to start sharing the tasks.

If you are interested, please contact Simone Rebora and he will tell you all the details. 

SIG-DLS endorses workshop at DHLab Basel, Switzerland

We are delighted to announce a new SiG-DLS-endorsed event!

On 8 and 9 November, 2018, the Digital Humanities Lab Basel (Switzerland) will host an Intensive Training «Finding Metaphor in Discourse» endorsed by SIG-DLS.

The event is co-endorsed by the International Association for Researching and Applying Metaphor (RaAM).

It features annotation tutorials on manual Metaphor Identification (MIPVU), a vector-based exploration by Nils Reiter and his team from Stuttgart, and the annotation and corpus tool CATMA. The workshop is a 1.5-day event.

In addition there’s going to be two full lectures by Lettie Dorst (Leiden) and Jan-Christoph Meister (Hamburg), which may be attended independently of the workshop.

Register soon as places are limited!

Attendence is free of charge.

New Members on Steering Committe

Last week, the SIG-DLS membership voted about two new membes of its Steering Committee (SC). We are delighted to communicate the election’s result. Our new SC members are: Anne-Sophie Bories (Basel, Switzerland) and Simone Rebora (Verona, Italy/Göttingen, Germany). Congratulations!

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Participation was good, with 41 votes cast. Thanks to the SIG membership for voting! All candidates were excellent and we thank Suzanne Mpouli (Saint-Étienne, France) for standing. As predicted, it was a close call.

This week, the old steering committee met for the last time, looking back at the important work done in creating and stabilizing the SIG over the past year. Christof Schöch (Trier University, Germany) and Natalie Houston (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA) will be missed in the SC, but will remain active members.

The SC agreed that future activities will emphasize organizing workshops (Metaphor Identification WS 2018 Basel; DH 2019 Utrecht; ACH 2019 Pittsburgh) and facilitating resources for the community, including young scholars (YDLS).

The current SC are

  • Anne-Sophie Bories – Basel University, Switzerland
  • Francesca Frontini – Laboratoire Praxiling – Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France
  • J. Berenike Herrmann – Digital Humanities Lab – Basel University, Switzerland (chair)
  • Simone Rebora – Verona University, Italy / Göttingen Center for Digital Humanities, Germany
  • Jan Rybicki – Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland

A missing president?

Analysis of The President is Missing, by James O’Sullivan of University College Cork.

The answer is quite conclusive: ‘The accompanying graph represents the novel on the x-axis, broken into segments: the thicker the bottom line, the more certain the proximity to the relevant author’s style. Considering Patterson’s fingerprint is represented by green, it is plain to see that, contrary to our previous study, this is a co-authored novel in which he was the scribe.’

Of course, as O’Sullivan points out himself, we need to stay wary where the genre signal comes in to make life complicated (no fictional writing of Clinton’s could be used for the study, simply because there isn’t any). However, there is good reason to assume that the authorial signal here trumps the genre signal.

Finally, O’Sullivan points out another important dimension of that particular collaboration: that of the market. “What better way to sell a book, than to have a mogul of commuter fiction combine with a former US president?”

Interestingly, according to both Lane and O’Sullivan, it is the former US president who does raise his voice towards the end of the novel, contributing a finishing touch, or rather, a finishing strike to the tale:

“…there’s the chutzpah with which Clinton (Patterson, I would suggest, may have stepped aside at this stage) waits until the twilight of the novel and then, like Tolstoy, squares his shoulders and expounds, in fiction-free form, his politico-historical thoughts.” (Lane)

… and this is what it sounds like:

“I want the United States to be free and prosperous, peaceful and secure, and constantly improving for all generations to come.”

I’d like to conclude that the current state of world history is clearly up for political debate, while the novel is naturally subject of an aesthetic one. Meanwhile, O’Sullivan’s article is a great stylometry story –  and we look foward to more of those.

DLS Resources: Journal of Cultural Analytics

Today, we’re beginning our series of DLS-resources with a very brief introduction of the Journal of Cultural Analytics (CA).

CA is an open-access journal dedicated to the computational study of culture. The journal currently features three sections: Articles reporting peer-reviewed new scholarship, Data Sets that facilitate cultural studies accompanied by discussions; and Debates offering interventions into current discussions surrounding the computational analysis of culture. The Clusters section provides an overview of the various themes or special issues addressed by the journal.

CA’s latest special issue is organized by the NovelTM research team. Its theme is “Identity.” Articles for this issue are posted successively, starting with the Introduction by Susan Brown and Laura Mandell and an article on The Transformation of Gender in English-Language Fiction by Ted Underwood, David Bamman, and Sabrina Lee.


Doing Digital Literary Stylistics!

SIG-DLS Resources and Events

On this blog, SIG-DLS members publish posts on resources and events relevant to our SIG. The posts introduce best practices, data and tools, but also journals, research groups, blogs, initiatives (including pedagogical ones), as well as reports of events.

So far there are two types of posts:
– Resources: Posts on resources such as tools, corpora, or coding manuals give a short narrative account of what a particular resource is and how it relates to DLS, possibly including a use case, in 200-500 words.
– Event Reports: Posts that report on conferences, workshops, courses (and so on) do so in addressing important, interesting, difficult issues for our group, values and priorities.

Would you like to introduce your resource in the SIG-DLS blog or report on a digital literary stylistics event? Please let us know: berenike[dot]herrmann[at]unibas[dot]ch


Digital Literary Stylistics (DLS)

This blog is going to become the web page of the Special Interest Group Digital Literary Stylistics (SIG-DLS), whose constitution has recently received official approval by ADHO ( We are going to publish news about the SIG-DLS initiatives and related events, such as workshops and conferences, as well as blog posts about the research done by the SIG members. The full proposal SIG-DLS (as approved by ADHO), with a description of the organisation and its aims, can be found here:—Proposal