“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.