Workshop: Digital Research Methods for Intertextual Media with Prof. Dr. Christopher Forstall

For several decades the study of referential relationships between texts has been a highly productive branch of philology and literary criticism. More recently, computational tools for natural language processing have made large-scale intertextual analysis accessible even for humanists without specialist training in computer science. For younger scholars in particular, familiarity with these tools is more and more a necessity both in research and in teaching.

This workshop is designed to introduce popular computational techniques for the study of intertextuality in literary texts and other media. The primary goal of the course is for scholars already experienced in the traditional close reading of texts to increase their capacity for literary analysis at the corpus scale. A secondary goal is to encourage exploration of intertextual effects beyond canonical literary texts, including consideration of non-literary referents for literary allusion as well as of allusive behaviors in non-literary media.

Four half-day sessions will emphasize hands-on training in R, an open-source programming language popular for textual analysis in the Digital Humanities. Exercises will include basic methods for acquiring and parsing textual data, natural language processing, topic modelling and other classification methods, as well as data visualization and analysis. Previous coding experience is not assumed.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own datasets and research questions. Example problems considered will include the following: verbal allusion and word-reuse in Latin poetry; patterns among epic type scenes and narrative structures; quotation of ancient and modern sources in social media; transformations of source material in online fan fiction. In addition to methods for acquiring and analyzing texts, we will also explore how quantitative analyses can be effectively assessed and meaningfully related to the subjective experience of readers.

Registration by e-mail is requested.


Dr. Simone Finkmann (host scientist)

Heinrich Schliemann-Institut für Altertumswissenschaften
Schwaansche Str. 3, 18055 Rostock
Tel.: 0381 498-2779

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