The SIG-DLS Tool Inventory

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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.

Distant Reading for European Literary History

A few months ago, our COST Action Distant Reading for European Literary History (CA16204) was approved and started running. Even more recently, our Working Group ‘Scholarly Resources’, aka its corpus backbone, met in Prague, for the first time! We are very excited about getting started and would like to briefly report on our work in this blog.

The COST Action Distant Reading has the goal to “develop the resources and methods necessary to change the way European literary history is written” (Memorandum of Understanding). To approach this goal, the Action’s Working Group ‘Scholarly Resources’ aims to create a big open source benchmark corpus of novels from 1850-1920, called ELTeC (European Literary Text Collection). During the course of the Action, we will examine ELTeC with different computational distant reading methods such as topic modelling, authorship attribution, network analysis, stylistic analysis, and different types of character analysis.

The Action’s Working Group ‘Scholarly Resources’ will coordinate the task of creating the ELTeC; It consists of members from all over Europe, from literary studies, computational and corpus lingustics, and from information science. The COST Action is a great opportunity to collaboratively work with researchers and bring together expertise for different languages as well as computational methods.

A challenging task has been defining the corpus selection criteria, a common annotation model and potential workflows for corpus creation for the ELTeC which can be applied to European novels from different languages as well as various publication contexts.

During our first Working Group meeting, we developed corpus selection and balancing criteria which follow a simple but consistent corpus design approach and represent the variety of novels in this period. Among other things, we do not want to solely rely on normative canon-based selection criteria and set a bias to our understanding of novels. The focus of the ELTeC encoding scheme is to uniformly represent historical novels from different languages with a basic TEI mark-up. The standard markup is necessary for applying different types of distant reading methods rather than representing the original text structure. ELTeC and the encoding scheme will be freely available at our GitHub Organization.

In this way, we would like to contribute a big chunk to the creation of a digital basis for cross-national and cross-language analysis of European literature!

Drawing Elena Ferrante’s Profile: International Workshop at University of Padova

Dear DLS-SIGroupies (is that what we are?),

Some of us took part this month in a very interesting workshop in Padova, Italy, part of the International Quantitative Linguistics Associations‘ biennial summer school, organized by our dear friend Arjuna Tuzzi from Padova University’s Gruppo Interdisciplinare di Analisi Testuale. It was devoted to solving Italy’s current greatest authorship riddle: who is hiding behind the pseudonym of Elena Ferrante, best-selling author of, among others, L’amica geniale. 

In fact I have no idea why I’m blogging about this, since the whole event was covered by “La Repubblica” (so nice to see that there are still countries in this world where literature is taken seriously by mainstream meadia) and the local press. They all published relatively sensible accounts of the event, also with diagrams; and a photo of some of the participants (I don’t want to brag, but…) made it into Greek press as well! Better than that: you can still (I think) watch the proceedings on Livestream!

Still… The speakers were either already members of our SIG, or will be soon, or are our close cousins from Quantitative Linguistics. Arjuna Tuzzi and Michele Cortelazzo (University of Padova), Jacques Savoy (University of Neuchâtel), Jan Rybicki (Jagiellonian University), Maciej Eder (Polish Academy of Sciences), Patrick Juola (Duquesne University), George K. Mikros (National and Kapodistrian University), Pierre Ratinaud (University of Toulouse II) all agreed that stylometric evidence overwhelmingly points to Italian writer Domenico Starnone (he has always been one of the main suspects anyway) rather than his wife, translator Anita Raja; yet her participation of some sort cannot be ruled out. This is very uncharacteristic agreement among people who use different methods and come from different backgrounds; and suggests this is a result that should be reckoned with.

I think this event was noteworthy for two things: first of all, DLS is becoming more and more visible in the media, but there is still a long way to go. Second, it ended in a spontaneous discussion on the ethics of the whole thing. Do anonymous writers have a right to privacy, especially when they’re (probably) alive? Starnone’s and Raja’s privacy had already been trampled upon by journalists who claim to have traced Ferrante’s royalties. Should they not be left alone?

My own answer is the following: I don’t really care who wrote which book, any book, and who took the money, as long as I learn something interesting about the process of literary creation. I think I did this time. While it is quite plausible that both Raja and her husband are in it together, the stylometric fingerprint is that of the latter. If it’s a collaboration, then this is a very valuable insight that might lead us further on: what is, if any, the “silent partner’s” contribution? In what way might Raja’s work as translator of Christa Wolf contribute to the Ferrante phenomenon? If they are, or one of them is, Ferrante, are they becoming Ferrante themselves?

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 (adho.org/sigs). 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: https://github.com/DLS-SIG/SIG-Proposal/wiki/DLS-SIG—Proposal