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Periodization in Literary History: A Computational Model of the History of Dutch Literature.

In literary history, scholars commonly divide the temporal series of events which they are discussing into periods (e.g. Romanticism). This process is called periodization and it is considered an important task of historical literary scholarship. In spite of its present-day relevance, periodization remains a surprisingly controversial process: some of the most influential models in literary history are considered a 19th-century inheritance, of which the present-day validity is often questioned nowadays. The objective of this project is to build a computational model of the history of Dutch-language literature in the Low Countries (13th-20th century). This diachronic model will use techniques from computational text analysis ("Distant Reading") to track changes in the stylistic and thematic characteristics of texts. Importantly, this will be a bottom-up model: it will be created in a data-driven manner, instead of setting out from existing (potentially preconceived) hypotheses. This model will be carefully interpreted and compared to the state of the art in traditional literary scholarship. This will allow us to verify and better understand the validity of established periodization models of Dutch literary history. This project will greatly contribute to the ongoing international debate about the integration of traditional, "close reading" methods in literary studies and new, computational methods for "distant reading".
Date:1 Oct 2015  →  30 Nov 2015
Disciplines:Language studies, Literary studies, Theory and methodology of language studies, Theory and methodology of linguistics, Theory and methodology of literary studies, Other languages and literary studies