Metaphorical Thinking

WindowSome people are literal minded – they think in black and white whereas others colour their worlds with metaphor. A new paper published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports on the first standardised measure of this difference, and it shows that having a proclivity for metaphors has real consequences, affecting how people respond to the world around them and even how they interact with others.

A summary of the paper in non-technical language can be found in The BPS Digest (from which this quote is taken).


“Distant Reading the English Novel”

A public lecture by Allen Riddel, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Neukom Institute for Computational Sciences and the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College

30th October 2015.

9.45-11.15, Heymanzaal (Academy Building)

The success of the English novel after 1740 is traditionally described
in terms of the gradual reordering of society under industrial
capitalism. Rising literacy rates, declining printing costs, and
increased leisure time associated with productivity gains are among the factors offered to account for the success of the literary form. Two subsequent developments, however, lack clear explanations: (1) the sudden increase in the rate of publication of novels in the 1830s and (2) the influx of male writers after 1815. In this presentation, I will argue for data-intensive research in the humanities and demonstrate how quantitative methods and probabilistic models of text can help evaluate competing hypotheses related to these two open questions.

Poetry News

For the anniversary of the death of T. S. Eliot (d. 1965), Faber & Faber are brining out a new and annotated edition of his poetry edited by Sir Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue. The edition will include previously unknown work, including some erotic poetry (which is not exactly what he is famous for). Eliot at The Poetry Foundation.

Sir Jonathan Bate’s Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life has been published. The biography made the news while it was being written as the Hughes estate refused Bate permission to print any of the poet’s material held in archives. Inevitably, the ghost of Silvia Plath haunts the publication. Review in The Guardian.


Nobel Prize for Literature goes to non-fiction author

Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarussian journalist and prose writer known for deeply researched works about female Russian soldiers in World War II and the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, won the Nobel Prize in Literature

Coverage in the New York Times: