Uncovering Signals at DHSI 2016

One of the first things that Maciej Eder explained in Stylometry with R: Computer-Assisted Analysis of Literary Texts is that stylometry is all about extracting signals from texts. As I progressed through the course during the second week of the 2016 Digital Humanities Summer Institute, I realized that Maciej had taken me from knowing nothing about stylometry to being able to extract those signals and uncover useful information about the novels being analyzed. While I know that there is still much to learn about stylometry, it was thrilling to begin experimenting with digital tools that will inform my future work. In fact, my goal is to use stylometric analysis to discern whether there are stylistic markers particular to literary magazines produced in 19th Century Scottish Mental Institutions, as opposed to such journals as Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine or the Edinburgh Review.

However, authorial fingerprints were not the only signals I picked up at DHSI. I was quite pleased to find a welcoming environment that truly promotes collaboration. In fact, throughout the classes, my colleagues were always willing to share ideas, not just on how to solve the immediate technical problem that one might be facing but also suggestions for enriching the research that we are all performing. I certainly came away from DHSI with wonderful ideas for my project.

The final signal I’d like to mention is the signal of egalitarianism that I uncovered. At DHSI, I found people who are excited about propelling the humanities forward through digital work. The abrupt divide between graduate student, adjunct instructor, and tenure-track professor was conspicuously absent. Instead, I formed connections with people around common research interests and a passion for digitally-informed pedagogy and only discovered after the fact that they were professors who were long past my current stage. Questions of hierarchy and status didn’t matter; we were all just developing our skills and our knowledge bases. This spirit of equality was quite refreshing, and I can heartily recommend DHSI to anyone who has a desire to acquire digital tools for teaching and research.

By Jonathan Tinnin

Comments are closed.