Seminars in Galway and Dublin, 15-17 February 2017

NUIG Digital Scholarship Seminar logoUCD Humanities Institute Seminar Room

Last week, Francesca presented two seminars on our A Question of Style project at the Digital Scholarship Seminar at the National University of Ireland Galway (15 February) and the UCD Humanities Institute in University College Dublin (17 February).

The seminars introduced A Question of Style and discussed progress so far as well as the longer-term goals of the project. The audiences, which included staff, postgraduate students, librarians and information technology specialists, showed particular interest in our work to develop tools for semi-automated OCR correction and TEI encoding. Several questions were also asked about the nature of “operationalisation” and the relationship between quantification and the study of literature, followed in both venues by lively discussions.

The NUI Galway seminar was broadcast on Facebook Live and is available to watch at this link:

Stylometry and corpus stylistics: suggested readings

Style, by Dr Case from Flickr. CC BY-NC
Style, by Dr Case from Flickr. CC BY-NC

Some members of the audience at yesterday’s seminar at The Open University asked us about the methods we are employing in our research. As an answer, we include here some of the key works that are inspiring our research.


Burrows, John. 2002. ‘“Delta”: a Measure of Stylistic Difference and a Guide to Likely Authorship’. Lit Linguist Computing 17 (3): 267–87. doi:10.1093/llc/17.3.267.

Burrows, John. 2007. ‘All the Way Through: Testing for Authorship in Different Frequency Strata’. Lit Linguist Computing 22 (1): 27–47. doi:10.1093/llc/fqi067.

Hoover, David L. 2002. ‘Frequent Word Sequences and Statistical Stylistics’. Literary and Linguistic Computing 17 (2): 157–80. doi:10.1093/llc/17.2.157.

Collaborative Authorship
Lang, Anouk. 2016. ‘Stylo and the Stevensons’. Anouk Lang. July 13.

Rybicki, Jan, David Hoover, and Mike Kestemont. 2014. ‘Collaborative Authorship: Conrad, Ford and Rolling Delta’. Literary and Linguistic Computing 29 (3): 422–31. doi:10.1093/llc/fqu016.
Hulle, Dirk van, and Mike Kestemont. 2016. ‘Periodizing Samuel Beckett’s Works: A Stylochronometric Approach’. Style 50 (2): 172-202.

Corpus Stylistics

Mahlberg, Michaela. 2012. Corpus Stylistics and Dickens’s Fiction. Routledge.

Mahlberg, Michaela. 2007. ‘Clusters, Key Clusters and Local Textual Functions in Dickens’. Corpora 2 (1): 1–31. doi:10.3366/cor.2007.2.1.1.

Style and meaning

Pennebaker, James W. 2011. The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us. Bloomsbury Publishing USA.

Herrmann J. Berenike, Dalen-Oskam Karina van, and Christof Schöch. 2015. ‘Revisiting Style, a Key Concept in Literary Studies’. Journal of Literary Theory 9 (1): 25–52. doi:10.1515/jlt-2015-0003.

Ongoing projects

The Riddle of Literary Quality, Huygens Institute
Stanford Literary Lab

Upcoming seminar, 9 February

Jennie Lee Building, Open Univeristy

We will be in the Jennie Lee Building presenting the results of our research so far at the Open University’s School of Computing and Communications Research Seminar series on Thursday 9th February.

Here is our description:

In a collaboration between FASS and STEM, we present our project, A Question of Style: individual voices and corporate identity in the Edinburgh Review, 1814-1820, which is funded by a Research Society for Victorian Periodicals Field Development Grant running from January 2017 to October 2017.

The Edinburgh Review was the main literary journal in early 19th-century Britain, including among its contributors some of the most prominent contemporary authors and politicians. Yet all its articles were published anonymously, their authority stemming exclusively from their presence in the Edinburgh and not from the name of their author. In 2016 we undertook a proof-of-concept project, employing methods from periodical studies, book history, computational linguistics and computational stylistics to assess the assumption that early nineteenth-century periodicals like the Edinburgh succeeded in creating, through a “transauthorial discourse”, a unified corporate voice that hid individual authors behind an impersonal public style (Klancher 1987).

We will discuss how we are now taking forward this work through “operationalising” our definition of style in order to select features that can be measured empirically (Moretti 2013) at the level of words and sentences, using methods such as term frequency: inverse document frequency, Burrows’ Delta and Zeta methods, Moretti’s Most Distinctive Words Method, and Principal Component Analysis.

Finally, we will qualitatively describe the results of our preliminary stylistic analysis.



Klancher, Jon P. The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790-1832. University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.

Moretti, Franco. “Operationalizing”: or, the function of measurement in modern literary theory” Stanford Literary Lab. Pamphlet 6. Stanford Lit. Lab, December 2013.