“Tool Criticism 3.0” Workshop Moving Online!


With DH2020 Ottawa converted into a Virtual Conference, the ADHO-Special Interest Group “Digital Literary Stylistics” (SIG-DLS) has decided to convert also its new Tool criticism workshop into an online, hybrid format.

First phase (asynchronous)

From Tuesday 14 July, we will publish the contributions by invited speakers on the “DH2020” Humanities Commons Group (where the main conference will take place).



Quinn Dombrowski

‘It doesn’t work’: failure and DH tools

Thierry Poibeau

It’s complicated! On Natural Language Processing Tools and Digital Humanities

Joanna Byszuk

Direct speech for multilingual corpora  –  some problems and one possible solution

Avery Blankenship

Coding the Bechdel Test for Nineteenth-Century Novels: Gender Classifiers and Scikit-Learn

These contributions will provide food for thought for an asynchronous discussion on Humanities Commons. The discussion thread will be open for the entire week before the official opening of the Conference.

Second phase (synchronous)

On Monday 20 July, at 3pm CEST, an online live event will take place on Zoom (at a link provided on the “DH2020” Humanities Commons Group), where invited respondents will discuss the contributions and open the discussion among participants. Here is a provisional schedule:

Time (CEST)



15:00 – 15:15

Welcome. SIG’s activities overview


15:15 – 15:45

Paper 1 (Quinn Dombrowski)

Ted Underwood and Frank Fischer

15:45 – 16:15

Paper 2 (Thierry Poibeau)

Christof Schöch and Francesca Frontini

16:15 – 16:30

Virtual Coffee break


16:30 – 17:00

Paper 3 (Joanna Byszuk)

Suzanne Mpouli and Simone Rebora

17:00 – 17:30

Paper 4 (Avery Blankenship)

J. Berenike Herrmann and Simone Rebora

17:30 – 18:00

SIG’s members’ meeting


Of course, participation is free (you just have to register to the Conference and to Humanities Commons), so we are just waiting for you to join us! 

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. 

CfP – Tool Criticism 3.0 Present, past, and future methods in Digital Literary Stylistics (DLS)

After the success of the second edition in Utrecht, the ADHO-Special Interest Group “Digital Literary Stylistics” (SIG-DLS) organizes a new version of its Tool criticism workshop for DH2020 Ottawa. This year, it will be open to contributions of all interested researchers and it will also set a focus on historical tool criticism.
The main goal of the workshop is to provide more critical awareness on the use of tools in DLS.This type of tool criticism can only be stimulated in two ways: (a) by a direct confrontation with user feedback and reports,which usually remain “in the background” of research papers; (b) via reconstructions of the historical evolution of tools and methodologies (which are never a given, but are built on top of complex –and sometimes unpredictable– research paths). The workshop is a natural extension of the DLS Tool Inventory (DLS-TI), which gathers information on the practices of the various traditions present in DLS. 
The workshop is scheduled for a pre-conference slot (the date pending confirmation). It will be structured as a mini-conference, where participants will be asked to present short critical reports (20 minutes each) on their use of tools in DLS. We encourage submissions on the following topics:

  • user interface criticism;
  • criticism of implied/hidden epistemologies (anatomy of tools); 
  • theoretical tool criticism (e.g. issues in modeling); 
  • historical tool criticism;
  • biases in DLS studies; 
  • replication studies.

Submission details

Proposals should be sent by 15 April 2020 to simone.rebora@univr.it. They should contain a title and a brief abstract (max 300 words).
Also feel free to enter contributions to the DLS Tool Inventory (DLS-TI), if relevant.
Acceptances will be notified by 15 May, 2020.


Organizers: Simone Rebora (University of Verona & University of Basel), J. Berenike Herrmann (University of Basel), Francesca Frontini (UPVM & Praxiling), Geoffrey Rockwell (University of Alberta), and Thierry Poibeau (CNRS & LATTICE)

Scientific committee: Anne-Sophie Bories (University of Basel), Julia Flanders (Northeastern University), Francesca Frontini (UPVM & Praxiling), J. Berenike Herrmann (University of Basel), Thomas C. Messerli (University of Basel), Thierry Poibeau (CNRS & LATTICE) , Simone Rebora (University of Verona & University of Basel), Geoffrey Rockwell (University of Alberta), Jan Rybicki (Jagiellonian University), and Peter Verhaar (Leiden University).


Please note that all participants and attendees will need to be registered for DH 2020. Full-day workshop registration for participants costs $70CAD and includes lunch.
Conference registration information can be found here: https://dh2020.adho.org/registration/

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 https://catma.de. 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; https://dls.hypotheses.org/) 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.herrmann@unibas.ch. 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.horstmann@uni-hamburg.de. Jan is a digitally working literary scholar and currently coordinates the forTEXT project (https://fortext.net) 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, a.g.dorst@hum.leidenuniv.nl. 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, nils.reiter@ims.uni-stuttgart.de, 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.

Stylometry workshop in Amsterdam 2019

It has become a tradition for the stylometric community to organize a small get-together whenever a DH conference takes place near one of the labs. In 2014 the crowd had its meeting in the Australian wilderness of Wollombi near Newcastle, and in 2016 they enjoyed the mountain seclusion of Żabnica near Kraków. This year we met in the heart of the urban jungle, at Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS), invited by the Riddle of Literary Quality team and Karina van Dalen-Oskam.
Stylometrists in the meeting

Karina van Dalen-Oskam opens the meeting. Photo by Tomoji Tabata

The meeting gathered some of the experts in the field and newcomers both from affiliated Federation of Stylometry Labs and ones pursuing solo stylometric projects. The workshop served as a great opportunity to get to know each other in a more relaxed setting and as an occasion for community building. Over the course of three days (15-17 July) we discussed our projects in development, good practices in the field and making it more accessible to newcomers, juggled ideas and enjoyed each other’s company over lovely dinners.
In relation to recent replication debates, we discussed the need for registering experimental setups as well as the exact shape of data (e.g. which particular editions were used, and what changes, such as normalization, introduced). While we noted the need for specifying the experimental setup in detail in advance, it was also observed that in practice we cannot foresee all the problems on our way and may need to adapt the method in the process.
Peter Boot presenting

Peter Boot presenting research on types of impact of text on readers.
Photo by Tomoji Tabata

We also discussed technical problems with working on digitized texts, especially historical ones – dealing with issues related to versioning, accuracy of preserved copies and search for the version closest to original intended by the author, lack of proper descriptions of digitized files in some collections – and the need for separating the development of reliable methods from answering actual research questions with a particular dataset.
Floor Buschenhenke presenting

Floor Buschenhenke discussing tracing how writers create.
Photo by Tomoji Tabata

Our interest was also sparked by a few more literary problems: the distinctiveness of authorial voice across various media (literary vs non-literary text, literature reviews, speech, audiovisual data) and manner of creating (e.g. typing oneself or dictating). Introducing the dimension of reader reception of literary texts to the discussion, researchers from Amsterdam addressed differences between stylometrists and readers in their perception of ‘style’, as well as the topic of stylistic development over time as observed in genetic criticism projects.
Finally, we also discussed the development of the Federation of Stylometry Labs and explored ideas for making it a more useful resource for aspiring stylometrists. You will notice the results of this discussion on our website https://stylometry.org in the upcoming months. This is surely of interest to SIG DLS members and observants, so stay tuned!
by Joanna Byszuk and Andreas van Cranenburgh

Digital Literary Stylistics in Utrecht: A Report on the DH2019 Conference

Most of us are back from the post-conference summer break: Time to revisit! Seven weeks have passed since the DH2019 conference in Utrecht: presented as the biggest DH conference so far (with about 1,100 participants and more than 400 presented papers), it also distinguished itself for the number and quality of contributions in digital literary stylistics. With this post, through highlights and summaries, we try to provide an overview of the most recent outcomes of stylistics research in DH. Well aware that (as our colleague José Calvo Tello already highlighted when reporting on DHd2018) these notes cannot be considered but a preliminary, incomplete, and subjective report on a much more complex and stratified event. As usual, more information can be found in the conference programme and book of abstracts, both available on the conference website. To extend the variety of documentation, then, the #dh2019 and #sig_dls hashtags were remarkably active on Twitter, while participants like Geoffrey Rockwell even shared their conference notes online.

But well, if you would like to know the specific point of view of the SIG-DLS (and, more specifically, of the member who’s writing this report), here are a few notes.

The first step, inevitably, is the pre-conference workshop organized by the SIG-DLS steering committee. Held on the morning of 9 July, DLS Tool Criticism. An Anatomy of Use Cases was conceived as a moment of self-reflection (and of self-criticism) on the tools and methodologies most frequently used in digital literary stylistics. During the workshop, Clémence Jacquot presented her use of the TXM software in the study of Apollinaire’s poetry (stimulating a discussion on limits and potentials of pre-compiled, user-friendly tools for the study of style); Geoffrey Rockwell presented a case study and a theoretical reflection on the concept of replication (thus rekindling the still lively discussion sparked by Nan Da’s criticism, but going beyond, querying ‘replication’ as a more flexible concept); and Steffen Pielström resisted the temptation to advertise his efficient topic modeling tool, inciting on the contrary an acute disputation on the pros and cons (and on the aleas) of such a technique. One of the major achievements in the final discussion was the shared impression that the quantitative/qualitative dichotomy is simply misleading, and digital literary stylistics will have to move beyond it, looking for a more organic integration of approaches.

The SIG_DLS Workshop (photo credit: J. Berenike Herrmann)

When reaching the bulk of the conference, the impressions we can record here become inevitably more random and scattered. A general trend was evident, however, with digital stylistics contributions divided roughly in two main categories: methodological analyses, providing very advanced and stimulating discussions of (more or less) shared approaches; and applications on complex and engaging case studies. This can be considered as a reflection of the state of things in stylometry, where methodological research is needed to ground more and more steadily the scientific rigor of the approaches (with the risk of an excessive technicism), and new applications even more so, if our research field is to gain  recognition beyond the boundaries of DH.

Among the methodological papers, some titles call for a specific mention. In “Comparing Assonance and Consonance for Authorship Attribution”, Lubomir Ivanov proposed prosodic elements as possible new features in stylometric classification, considering the extremely relevant role of prosody in 18th century prose (and beyond). His experiments showed how the combination of assonance/consonance with traditional stylometric methods generates significant improvements in the classification. Further research on the subject is definitely advised! In “Feature Selection in Authorship Attribution: Ordering the Wordlist”, Maciej Eder and Joanna Byszuk worked on the effects of re-ordering the (traditional) list of features. Main discovery: a combination of term frequency (the widely-used MFW) and a coefficient of variation slightly improves the results. Finally, in “Identifying Similarities in Text Analysis: Hierarchical Clustering (Linkage) versus Network Clustering (Community Detection)”, a team of four researchers led by Jeremi Ochab tried to provide an answer to a still under-studied–but ever-present–question in stylometric classification: how do I cluster the texts to visualize similarity/dissimilarity? Results showed that network clustering tends to underestimate the actual number of clusters, while hierarchical clustering overestimates it (and of course, which one is better will depend on the research question!). Traditional algorithms (Ward, Louvain) were confirmed as the most efficient.

Placing itself between method and application, David L. Hoover proposed his “Invisible Translator Revisited”. Given the (supposed) invisibility of the translator in stylometry, Hoover proposed a method for making her visible again, by filtering out the words preferred by the author. The approach showed surprisingly effective, but will it work for all pairs of authors-translators? As it happens, the idea found an indirect confirmation in “Attributions Of Early German Shakespeare Translations”, where a team of three researchers led by David Lassner was equally successful in revealing the translator (here, by combining advanced classification methods based on sub-word-level features). Shifting the focus towards themes and genres, Fotis Jannidis and his colleagues (in “Thematic complexity”) used two approaches, LDA and Zeta, to model genre distribution and to measure thematic complexity (via the “Gini index”) for dime novels and high-brow genres. Their results support their hypothesis of high literature comprising a broader spectrum of subject areas than pulp fiction genres. On a similar line of enquiry, a team of seven researchers led by J.D. Porter used stylometric approaches to identify passages in novels that adopt stylistic traits from other genres (in the paper “Microgenres”).

Miffy’s Traffic Light (photo credit: J. Berenike Herrmann)

Moving then to the applications, it is worth mentioning “Challenging Stylometry: The Authorship of the Baroque Play La Segunda Celestina”, by Laura Hernández Lorenzo and Joanna Byszuk (who wins our award of the most prolific stylometrician, with three co-authored papers, and who on top of that also has contributed a SIG-DLS blog post!). That of La Segunda Celestina is a real “challenge” for authorship attribution: in fact, the results of the analysis did not limit themselves to “solving” the problem, but suggested possible new lines of enquiry. In “Stylometric Analyses of Character Speeches in French Plays”, then, Ioana Galleron provided an effective example of “scalable reading”, combining multiple approaches to distinguish the style of male and female characters. Finally, Massimo Salgaro and Simone Rebora (i.e. myself, in the panel “Digital Humanities for the Study of Social Reading”) showed how stylometric approaches can also be used to distinguish professional and non-professional book reviews.

A conclusive note should be dedicated to “Stylometry for Noisy Medieval Data: Evaluating Paul Meyer’s Hagiographic Hypothesis” by Ariane Pinche, Jean-Baptiste Camps, and Thibault Clérice. The work stands out as a perfect realization of a processing pipeline (from handwritten text recognition to stylometric classification, with advanced techniques to reduce noise and manage spelling variants) that instantiates a fruitful dialogue with traditional literary research, by confirming (and in part disputing) Paul Meyer’s hypotheses about the composition of the French saint’s Lives. The paper was awarded the Paul Fortier Prize for the best young scholar paper of the conference. A further success that confirms the increasingly central position of digital literary stylistics in DH research.

The SIG-DLS steering committee reiterates their congratulations to Ariane, Jean-Baptiste, and Thibault, but also to the Programme Committee chairs Elena and Fabio, and to the local organizers Joris and Franciska, for making such a spectacular conference possible. Looking forward to meeting you all again in Ottawa (hopefully, with even more stylometry to discuss)!

Doctors in lusophone literature

How often is a medical doctor cited in literary works written in Portuguese in the period 1840-1919? How much can this illuminate the importance of medicine in the society, and the socio-economical status and prestige of the doctor in particular?

This question lies at the intersection of two research communities or projects I am involved in: ILLREP, the representation of illness and disability in literary and cultural texts, an interdisciplinary research group at the University of Oslo, and the COST action “Distant reading for European literary history”, a large and exciting endeavour with more than 30 participating countries, aiming to investigate (among other things) the relationships, similarities and differences between different literatures, more specifically their novels. This January (2019), in a plenary session of the COST action, the analysis of the socio-professional profiles that can be found in the various literatures was elected as one of the research angles that should be addressed. Or, removing the jargon, are butchers, writers or soldiers, proeminent in each or all literatures? Are duchesses, governesses and cooks equally present?

In this respect, a subquestion, the one I am concerned with here, is: and what about the health professions? How do doctors fare in fiction, compared for example to clergymen (of different persuasions)?

Having ca. 800 literary works in Portuguese in Literateca, in 6 different literary corpora spanning from 1380 to the present, richly syntactically and semantically annotated, there are a lot of questions we can pursue. For this particular issue, we restricted the corpus to novels originally written in Portuguese in the COST period (1840-1919), but not to European origin only, since it is lusophone literature (i.e., works originally written in Portuguese) which concern us.

In addition to several other investigations in this subcorpus concerning health and illness, we looked at the lexemes “médico” and “facultativo” in some detail, and hope that this will provide an interesting point of comparison for other languages.

But first we should perhaps stress that Portuguese literature has many authors who are doctors. In fact this is something that is interesting per se, and may bring a special flavour to Portuguese literature. After all, it is conceivable, although by not means guaranteed, that this may bring more doctors and more medicine talk to the literature. In any case, this is probably not a conspicuous feature of the COST period, since this multitude of doctor writers is mainly true of the 20th century.

Anyway, one the most read and beloved works of the COST period, As Pupilas do Senhor Reitor (1867), written by a doctor (Júlio Dinis, see picture), has one doctor as its main character, and another doctor type which has become the stereotype/model of the country doctor, as a recent text in the Portuguese Medical Journal has highlighted.

So, what are the figures concerning doctors in the 172 novels in this period that we investigated? The first thing is that there is reference to a medical profession in 83% of them, more precisely in 143. And there are 18 novels where there are more than 30 mentions to doctors, which make us believe that they have a character with this profession. This means that 10% of the novels are (partially) about doctors.

Now, is this interesting? Is this different from the other literatures? Is this something that indicates either a particular concern with health or a period of scientific enlightenment in Portuguese-speaking belles-lettres? One needs of course to look into those novels in more detail, as well as to produce a specific classification of the kind of doctor involved (main character, secondary character, type, generic). Also, onet should assess how relevant for the plot it is that a character is a doctor or not.

Let me give some examples of different cases, from a selection of those novels with a high proportion of references to the profession (4 out of the 18 which have more than 30 mentions).
In the already mentioned Pupilas, in addition to present a model of the country doctor, it is relevant for the plot that the main character has to go to the city to study, and come back to the village invested in a new status. However, and notwithstanding some of the funniest scenes of Portuguese literature in his encounters with the old-fashioned chemist and his wife and daughter, for the main plot I believe he could have studied law instead.
In the novel O Dr. Luiz Sandoval, by Alice Moderno (1892) it is just relevant for the plot that the first encounter between the main characters was motivated by his coming into her house as a doctor, but for all the rest of the story he could well have been a neighbour of whatever profession.
In the novel A ermida de Castromino, by Teixeira de Vasconcellos (1870), the main character is a doctor who has to become a trader due to money problems. However, some of the plot events are related to his profession, in that he becomes a sort of “resident doctor” of a particular family, and ends being a renowned friar canonized by the people due to the health suggestions he gives to those who come to see him.
Finally, in A caveira da mártir, by Camilo Castelo Branco (1876), the medical doctor character is the evil one, but again all his deeds have little to do with his profession.

Now, is this similar in other literatures? From a very small pilot study we did with profession tagging in COST, and although “doctor” in most languages is ambiguous between medical doctor and simply university graduated, some form of “doctor” was one of the most common professions in six of the seven languages we probed from ca. 30,000 words from 10 books per language.

On the other hand, it is perhaps understandable that (medical) doctors are more common in contemporary than historical novels. The subgenre of the novel, and the literary school it pertains to, is obviously relevant. We have already been able to detect a significant correlation between the health domain and the naturalist school. But this will have to become another post…


Picture Credit.

By Unknown – Romanov Family Album 3, page 37, image no. 8, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10271979

Por Afonsomsilva97 – Obra do próprio, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79741048

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.

Plotting Poetry joins the SIG-DLS

We are delighted to welcome the Plotting Poetry group within the SIG-DLS!

Plotting Poetry – Machiner la poésie gathers scholars applying computational methods to the analysis of poetic texts. They focus on metrics, rhyme, stylistics, poetics, and they pursue their hermeneutical agenda through mechanically enhanced reading. The group started as an international conference organised in Basel in 2017 by Anne-Sophie Bories, Hugues Marchal and Gérald Purnelle, with keynotes by Franco Moretti and Valérie Beaudouin, followed by a workshop organized in Berlin in 2018 by Anne-Sophie Bories and Burkhard Meyer-Sickendiek. The group will meet again in Nancy in 2019 (CfP), hosted by Véronique Montémont and Anne-Sophie Bories, then in Prague thanks to Petr Plecháč.

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.

MA Seminar in Stylometry @ Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Kraków, Poland

This is a two-year course taught (or, rather, loosely coordinated by Jan Rybicki), which introduces students of the University’s Translation Studies programme to quantitative approaches in the study of – you’ve guessed it – translation. The course’s main deliverable is a ca. 80-page dissertation in English.

The course’s first year begins with an introduction to the field and to its methods, and ends in a specified subject of later work. The students also produce a short “teaser” of what they will be writing about. Some examples are presented below.

Sara Chodorowicz

Genres according to Project Gutenberg

The subject of this experiment is 83 novels that, according to the Project Gutenberg, belong to one of the three genres: adventure, crime fiction and detective fiction. The presented samples are both originally written in English and translated into English, for example from French (such as Jules Verne, Alexander Dumas père). The majority of the selected authors appear only in one category; however, there are three names (Morrison, Orczy and Wallace) that have works that belong to both adventure and detective fiction; thus, to those books that belong to adventure section, a letter A has been added after the name of the author. Moreover, the name Stevenson appears in adventure as well as detective fiction; yet the name does not represent the same person. Adventure is represented by Robert Louis Stevenson and detective fiction by Burton Egbert Stevenson. In order to avoid confusion, the letter B has been added to the latter man’s work.

The aim of the experiment is to determine whether the novels that Gutenberg categorised into one group can be distinguished from those belonging to two other groups. Furthermore, it ought to be established whether translations from the same language show any similar traits. Another issue that is of concern is the matter of authorial signal, for there are novels written by the same author that belong to two categories. The methods employed to answer all those questions are consensus cluster analysis (Figure 1) and network analysis (Figure 2).

Figure 1. Cluster analysis

Cluster analysis illustrates the relationship between particular samples; however, if one was to see connections between all the texts, network analysis is needed.

Figure 2. Network analysis

In order to distinguish what category does a particular novel belong to, the sample has been coloured according to their category: red shades for adventure, green shades for crime fiction and blue shades for detective fiction.

The adventure books appear to exhibit similarities between one another, as the samples are grouped closely together. The only novel that is separated from the rest is Arthur Morrison’s  The Dorrington Deed-Box (morrisonA_box). It is instead grouped with other Morrison’s books, those that belong to the detective fiction category, thus showing a strong authorial signal of Morrison. Detective fiction novels, though not as neatly as the adventure ones, are mostly grouped in one place. They are more interconnected with crime fiction novels, which illustrates the similarity between the two categories. Authors that are particularly close include Sax Rohmer and Arthur Rees or Joseph Smith Fletcher, Harrington Strong and H. Beam Piper. Crime fiction novels do not seem to compose a strong group, as only a few samples are present in a particular place on the network. As previously stated, this category is interlaced with detective fiction novels.

Translated samples do not show any apparent similarities, as they are not universally connected one to another or even placed in close proximity on the network.

Taking all the evidence into consideration, it can be concluded that the Gutenberg division proves to have some merit. Adventure books clearly compose one group. Detective and, particularly, crime fiction are not clustered so closely but, as they are genres similar enough, the connection between them can be expected.

Kamil Różański

Discovering The Dirty Old Man’s Identity

My very first research that I did more for fun than on spec for a serious discovery turned out to be more fascinating than I thought of. It all started after 1834 when Adam Mickiewicz, one of the most important figures in Polish literature, wrote an epic poem considered the national epic of Poland, Pan Tadeusz  (Sir Thaddeus). The poem consists of twelve chapters called books, all written in Polish alexandrine (13 syllables divided into two half lines). There is, however, yet one chapter called the 13th Book that describes the wedding night of the title character Tadeusz with Zosia. The book resembles Mickiewicz’ style in its use of the Polish Alexandrine but on the other hand is packed with words that are commonly treated as vulgar. There was ongoing speculation about the authorship of the 13th Book of Pan Tadeusz as no writer owned up to writing it. There were three authors who were taken into account: Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, Włodzimierz Zagórski and Alexander Fredro; the latter being most frequently suspected.

In my research I decided to have a first look at the romantic writers contemporary to Mickiewicz and do a cluster analysis of their works based on 100 most frequent words. My corpus consists of 5 books of Mickiewicz (one being a translation of Byron’s The Giaur), 4 books of Fredro (with the assumption that he was the author of the 13th Book), 2 of Słowacki and 1 of Krasicki.

I expected the 13th Book to occur somewhere near Pan Tadeusz as both of them were written in Polish alexandrine as epic poems. The results however proved me wrong and rewarded me with a very satisfying discovery.


Figure 1. Fredro exposed

In Table 1 we can see the results of cluster analysis based on 100 most frequent words with the use of Classic Delta distance. We can clearly see that the 13th Book is closer to Fredro’s works than Mickiewicz ones. It might have been an insufficient evidence for Fredro’s authorship and that’s what I thought at first too. From all the books that my corpus consists of,  only 3 are dramas and the 13th Book seems to like them more than other, more even than Mickiewicz model Pan Tadeusz. What’s more, all of dramas included in the corpus were written by Fredro. I decided that a consensus tree based on 100-1000 most frequent words will resolve all my remaining doubts on who the title dirty old man was.

Figure 2. It’s definitely Fredro

When I saw the results of the consensus tree that is presented in the Table 2, all of my remaining doubts vaporised like a wispy Cretan cloud on my honeymoon that I send you my warm regards from.  The 13th Book still is sticks to Fredro’s dramas and is none like other epic poems from the corpus.

There is only one conclusion that I drew from my research. The resemblance that the 13th Book and Fredro’s dramas have is so apparent that we can assume that he really was the author of the filthy continuation of Mickiewicz’ national epic.


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!

File:Wc130j-cockpit USAF.jpg

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

Computer Assisted Text Markup and Analysis (CATMA) – An undogmatic approach to corpus analysis and Germany’s literary super heroes

Do you know CATMA? Not yet? Then read the following blog. Do you think you know CATMA? It’s still a good idea to read the following blog…

CATMA is a web-application for text markup and analysis. Its central function is annotating, analyzing and visualizing one or multiple texts. CATMA has been around since 2008.

When the implementation of the web-application CATMA started in 2008, the focus was to create a tool for digital close reading. Although there always has been the possibility to run some standard queries as e.g. word frequencies automatically, the focus of the application was entirely on the annotation functionality of single texts. Ten years later, CATMA provides the possibility to store, manage and analyse not only single texts, but also bigger corpora – using both close and distant reading methods. Although CATMA still can be used for manual annotation of single texts, in this article, we want to show you how the web-application can be used on corpora.

Goethe and Schiller, Germany’s literary super heroes

Let’s say you would like to explore the authorial styles of Germany’s literary super heroes, Goethe and Schiller. As you want to make the two author corpora comparable, you choose 12 dramatic and 5 prosaic texts of each author. Just upload those texts to CATMA and organise them into different corpora, one with texts by Goethe and one with texts by Schiller. Once your corpora have been created in CATMA, you can easily export them, or, more important, share them with your team.

Without any further preparation you can now start analysing your corpora. Using the Analyze modul you can generate a word list with frequencies. This list will show you that there are around 800.837 words in your selection of Goethe’s texts with around 46.840 types. Schiller’s texts contain 35.351 word types and a total of 498.790 words. These numbers are not very meaningful yet, because, obviously, the texts do not have the same length. Looking at the word frequency list, from a narrative perspective, the first person pronoun “ich” (I) is probably most interesting as it points to a predominant first-person perspective. Or is it just the dramatic characters? Other highly frequent (but narratologically possibly less relevant) words in the Goethe corpus are “und” (and), “die” (the/who/which – female), “zu” (to), and “der” (the/who/which – male), much as in the Schiller corpus (albeit in the order “der”, “und”, and “die”). At this top tier of frequency, there seems to be a similarity.

Word frequencies in Goethe’s and Schiller’s texts

But how about the other end of the lexical spectrum? Goethe is known to have had a comparably large vocabulary, so we may quickly check the least frequent words in the corpus – those which are used only once. Are there many of these hapax legomena?

In the Goethe corpus they sum up to 28.792 words altogether. Schiller uses 21.025 words only once in the entire corpus. This means that Goethe uses 61.4% of all the types of this corpus only once. Schiller uses 59.4% of all types in the corpus only once. Maybe this similarity suggests that Schiller after all was closely following Goethe in variability of word use. However, nobody will ever know how large the vocabulary of Schiller’s works might have become had he reached the same old age as Goethe in the end…

If we turn away from the low frequencies now and have another look at the high ones, we get hold of another interesting phenomenon. Among the most frequently used signs by Schiller are question- and exclamation marks. They appear at ranks 4 (exclamation mark) and 8 (question mark). In the Goethe corpus they only make it to ranks 11 (exclamation mark) and 27 (question mark). A look at the distribution of exclamation and question marks in our corpora shows that the distribution of exclamation marks ist always higher than the one of question marks in the Goethe corpus. Schiller on the other side has written five texts in which there are more question marks than exclamation marks. Is it maybe that Schiller’s authorial signature is characterized by an unusual amount of questions? Especially his play “Don Carlos. Infant von Spanien” is characterized by question marks, as you can see in the CATMA small multiples view below:

Small multiples view of distributions of question- and exclamation marks in the works of Schiller

Our case study so far has applied some handy distant reading functions, which are often used in one way or another in stylistics. But CATMA offers also a method for what we call scalable reading. Starting off with distant reading as we did, you may now scale down a bit: Simple double clicking on one point in the distribution graph or one keyword in the keyword in context table will take you to the specific position in the text where you find either the keyword or the accumulation of a word or tag you found in your small multiple distribution graphs. So, you can go from corpus to multiple texts in one visualization, on to single text view and even to the very position at which you find one word in one text – changing dynamically from distant to close reading and back just as you wish. This scalability also allows to develop different kinds of interpretation from data analysis to more context-oriented interpretation of certain passages in single texts.

I leave you here to start your own case study now, be it on the style of Goethe and Schiller or other literary phenomena. But just before you do that, do know that there are more functions for working on corpora in CATMA, among which are automatic annotations of part of speech (POS) tagging, as well as that of verbal tense and temporal signals (in German texts).

And of course you can also use the central CATMA function, which is annotating one text, or a whole corpus, with your very own categories, analyzing and visualizing them. CATMA ist running as version 5.0 right now, but in 2019, CATMA 6.0 will be launched. Users can look forward to the new design of the graphical user interface, the optimization of workflows and the addition of some features. 

As we focused on the corpus-specific functions in CATMA in this article, you might want to have a look at our tutorials for a complete overview of the application’s functionalities: http://catma.de/documentation/tutorials/

Have fun annotating, exploring, and scaling!