Digital Americanists at ALA 2014

March 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

From the Digital Americanists site, which has full details:

Visualizing Non-Linearity: Faulkner and the Challenges of Narrative Mapping
Session 1-A. Thursday, May 22, 2014, 9:00 – 10:20 am

  1. Julie Napolin, The New School
  2. Worthy Martin, University of Virginia
  3. Johannes Burgers, Queensborough Community College

Digital Flânerie and Americans in Paris
Session 2-A. Thursday, May 22, 2014, 10:30-11:50 am

  1. “Mapping Movement, or, Walking with Hemingway,” Laura McGrath, Michigan State University
  2. “Parisian Remainder,” Steven Ambrose, Michigan State University
  3. “Sedentary City,” Anna Green, Michigan State University
  4. “Locating The Imaginary: Literary Mapping and Propositional Space,” Sarah Panuska, Michigan State University

Matthew Wilkens: Geospatial Cultural Analysis and Literary Production

March 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Matthew Wilkens:

An interview with the DH group at Chicago in advance of my talk there this Friday. Looking forward!

Originally posted on digital humanities blog @UChicago:

the distribution of US city-level locations, revealing a preponderance of literary–geographic occurrences in what we would now call the Northeast corridor between Washington, DC, and Boston, but also sizable numbers throughout the South, Midwest, Texas, and California.

The distribution of US city-level locations, revealing a preponderance of literary–geographic occurrences in what we would now call the Northeast corridor between Washington, DC, and Boston, but also sizable numbers throughout the South, Midwest, Texas, and California.

Matthew Wilkens, Assistant Professor of English at Notre Dame University, will be speaking at the Digital Humanities Forum on March 7 about Geospatial Cultural Analysis and its intersection with Literary Production. Specifically, Wilkens’ research asks: Using computational analysis, how can we define and assess the geographic imagination of American fiction around the Civil War, and how did the geographic investments of American literature change across that sociopolitical event?

We spoke to him about his choice to use a quantitative methodology, the challenges that were consequently faced, and the overall future for the Digital Humanities. This is what he had to say:

What brought you to Digital Humanities methodologies?

I guess it was…

View original 1,715 more words

Talk at Chicago, March 7, 2014

February 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’m giving a talk at the University of Chicago Digital Humanities Forum in a couple of weeks. Details at that link and reproduced here. Looking forward to the event and hope to see some of the many cool DH folks in Chicago there.

Date: March 7, 2014
Location: Regenstein Library 122
Time: 12:00-2:00 pm

Abstract: Scholars have long understood that there is a close relationship between literary production and the large-scale cultural contexts in which books are written. But it’s difficult to pin down the many ways in which this relationship might work, especially once we expand our interest from individual texts to systems of production and reception. In this talk, Wilkens offers a computationally assisted analysis of changes in geographic usage within more than a thousand works of nineteenth-century American fiction, arguing that literary-spatial attention around the Civil War was at once more diverse and more stable than has been previously shown. He examines correlations between literary attention and changes in demographic factors that offer preliminary insights into the driving forces behind a range of shifts in literary output. Wilkens also discusses the future of the project, which will soon expand to include millions of books from the early modern period to the present day.

DH Grad Syllabus

January 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

The syllabus for my current digital humanities grad seminar is now available. It’ll evolve a bit over the semester, mostly by gaining specific exercises and answers.

I tried to take my own advice from the last time I taught the class as I put together this version; there’s more (and more formal) programming and machine learning, different treatments of the intro to DH and of visualization, more GIS, and (much) less media studies. But if you think there are things I’ve missed, I’d me curious to know. Or, well, I know there are a lot of things I’ve been forced to leave out. Since time remains stubbornly finite, if you think something should be added, what might be cut to make room for it?

Digital Americanists CFP for ALA 2014

January 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

A call for papers or panel proposals for the Digital Americanists session at the American Literature Association 2014 conference (Washington, DC, May 22-25, 2014) is available on the DA site. We’re hoping for great stuff; if you’re working on something interesting, check the CFP and drop us a line soon – the deadline in January 21!

Books I Read in 2013

December 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

A list of the new (to me) fiction I read this year. Criticism, theory, and rereads for work excluded. (See also lists from 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009.)

  • Bennett, Ronan. The Catastrophist (2001). A possible text for the Congo class, though I’d probably go with something by Mabanckou instead.
  • Coetzee, J. M. The Childhood of Jesus (2013). Very good, as always.
  • Fountain, Ben. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012). Wanted to like this one, as the consensus best novel of the recent wars, but it left me kind of cold.
  • Klosterman, Chuck. The Visible Man (2011). Interesting premise: Try to think through all the implications of selective invisibility.
  • Kushner, Rachel. The Flamethrowers (2013). Not sure it’s as good as everyone says, but it is good.
  • Ledgard, J. M. Submergence (2013). Two-thirds of a really good book. The African sections are wonderful; the oceanography bits, not so much. Has the same problem Richard Powers does in writing about scientists — can’t get over a fawning love of science itself that finds expression as insufferably polymathic scientists.
  • Mantel, Hilary. Bring Up the Bodies (2012). I’m a shameless fan. The last Wolf Hall book is coming soon, right? Please?
  • Nutting, Alissa. Tampa (2013). The comparisons to Lolita are entirely unearned, though I suppose one could do worse than “not as good as Nabokov.”
  • Pava, Sergio De La. A Naked Singularity (2012). Best book I’ve read in a long time.
  • Pynchon, Thomas. Bleeding Edge. (2013) Really enjoyed this; as with Coetzee, I’m a sucker for everything Pynchon writes.
  • Saunders, George. Tenth of December (2013). Pretty much as good as everyone says, though I still never know what to do with short stories.
  • Winterbach, Ingrid. The Book of Happenstance. (2011). An interesting, patient novel, translated from Afrikaans.

A dozen books in all. Once again, not setting any records, but an enjoyable year. I’m on leave next fall, so may do a bit better in 2014. In the meantime, I’ve just started Tash Aw’s Five Star Billionaire

New Article in ALH

December 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

My article, “The Geographic Imagination of Civil War-Era American Fiction,” is in the latest issue of American Literary History (which happens to be the 100th issue of the journal). The easiest way to get it is probably via Muse (direct link, paywall), though it’s also available from Oxford (publisher of ALH, temporarily free to all). If your institution doesn’t subscribe to either of those outlets, drop me a line and I’ll send you a PDF offprint. I’m really pleased to see the piece in print, especially in an issue with so many people whose work I admire.

The article presents some of my recent work on geolocation extraction in a form that’s more complete than has been possible in the talks I’ve given over the last year or so. There’s more coming on a number of fronts: geographic attention as a function of demographic and economic factors, a wider historical scope, a (much) larger corpus, some marginally related studies of language use in the nineteenth century (with my students Bryan Santin and Dan Murphy), and more. Looking forward to sharing these projects in the months ahead.


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