Modeling Perspective and Parallax to Tell the Story of Genre Fiction
Ted Underwood
Thursday, November 8th, 2018
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Townsend Center, 220 Stephens Hall (Geballe Room)

Please join us for discussions around the intersections of data and literature with Ted Underwood, Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Professor Underwood will speak on "Modeling Perspective and Parallax to Tell the Story of Genre Fiction" at 5:30pm, and will also host an open seminar on the same date, "Characterization and Gender, 1800-2008" from 11-12:30. 

This talk will use science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and the Gothic to explore the advantages of an approach that asks data science to contribute to the humanities by adding perspectival flexibility, rather than sheer scale. Underwood trained predictive models of these genres using ground truth drawn from various sources and periods (19c reviewers, early 20c bibliographies, contemporary librarians), in order to explore how implicit assumptions about genre consolidate or change across time. Contrasting different models also allows us to take a parallax view of individual books, or even paragraphs in books: which passages in 1960s science fiction, for instance, would have been hardest for a pre-war reader to recognize as SF?

Professor Underwood teaches in the School of Information Sciences and the English Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He was trained as a Romanticist and now applies machine learning to large digital collections. His most recent book, Distant Horizons: Digital Evidence and Literary Change (Univ of Chicago, Spring 2019) addresses new perspectives opened up by large digital libraries.Sponsored by the UC Berkeley Department of Comparative Literature, the School of Information, Digital Humanities at Berkeley, The Digital Humanities Working Group, the D-Lab, the Townsend Center for the Humanities, and the UC Berkeley Library