Dr. Jeffrey Rydberg-Cox presents "Statistical Methods for Studying Literature using R"

Friday, October 10, 2014 - 1:00pm to 5:30pm
Event Location: 
3092 Main Library

What is R? It is a versatile software application used in the field of digital humanities to analyze and visualize literary data.

The creation of enormous and inclusive databases, the digitization of literary works, and the steady improvement of search engines enable scholars in the digital humanities to ask very big questions. Using computational analysis to retrieve key words, phrases, and linguistic patterns across thousands of texts in digital libraries, Researchers can draw conclusions based on quantifiable evidence regarding how literary trends are employed over time, across periods, within regions, or within demographic groups, As well as how cultural, historical, and societal linkages may bind individual authors, texts, and genres into an aggregate literary culture.” (Jockers, Macroanalysis)

This type of reading strategy is often referred to as “distant reading” (Franco Moretti’s term) or “Macroanalysis” (Matthew Jockers’s term), since its aim is to supplement close reading with analysis of the vast bodies of texts from which individual works arise.

The workshop will involve both instruction and hands-on experimentation. Rydberg-Cox will introduce students to the R environment, describe data structures in R, ways to format data about literary texts for statistical analysis, and provide practical examples of ways to use R to answer questions about literature.  Students will have the opportunity to discuss their research interests informally over two coffee breaks, and the final session will focus on questions and topics raised by the participants. 

How to get involved?: We ask that you (1) make sure that you are available to attend the full workshop as seating will be limited, and (2) provide a brief paragraph explaining your interest in the workshop. For instance, do you see it informing a class you are enrolled in or a project you are currently working on?  Note: we are just gauging interest, not technological proficiency. 

Absolutely, positively no prior knowledge of R is required to participate. You may bring a laptop (the software is free and we will guide you through the brief installation process); otherwise, PC’s will be available in the workshop room. The workshop will also provide a natural bridge to a graduate seminar on the Distant Reading/Macroanalysis of literature, to be offered for the first time in Spring 2015 by Paul Dilley.

Please send us an email expressing your interest to attend by Monday Sept. 29th. Include your brief paragraph (described above) in the body of your email. Contact: paul-dilley@uiowa.edu | stephen-voyce@uiowa.edu.

The workshop acknowledges generous support from the Digital Studio for Public Arts & Humanities, PHDW Cluster, Classics, English, School of Library & Information Science, and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.