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Correlating Theme, Geography, and Sentiment in the 19th Century Literary Imagination

A Catapult Center Lecture by Matthew Jockers

Friday, February 8, 2013, 4:00pm

State Room East, Indiana Memorial Union

ppl_jockersCorrelating Theme, Geography, and Sentiment in the 19th Century Literary Imagination
Matthew Jockers (University of Nebraska)

How do literary expressions of and attitudes toward slavery in the 19th century change according to fictional setting? Do novels set in Ireland present a perspective toward landlords and tenants that is similar or different from what we find in novels set in America or England? How do the answers to these and similar questions fluctuate over time or according to author gender or author nationality?

This study uses tools and techniques from text mining, natural language processing, machine learning, and statistics to address questions such as these and to identify and study how specific places, themes, and sentiments find synchronous or asynchronous expression within the 19th century literary imagination. Using data mined from a large corpus, ~3500 works of British, Irish and American fiction, this macroanalysis seeks to expose persistent links between geographic setting, theme, and sentiment and to then chart the ways in which places (such as Ireland) are constructed, or “invented,” within the literary imagination of the century.

Sponsored by the Catapult Center for Digital Humanities & Computational Analysis of Texts and The Digital Culture Lab in the School of Library and Information Science