[Humanist] 24.471 events: authorship attribution; literacy

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Nov 6 08:45:18 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 471.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (69)
        Subject: London Seminar for November

  [2]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (26)
        Subject: "Texts and Literacy in the Digital Age" Conference, The
                Hague, 16-17December 2010

        Date: Fri, 05 Nov 2010 09:42:01 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: London Seminar for November

London Seminar in Digital Text and Scholarship
11 November 2010, 17.30-19.30,
G27 Senate House, Ground Floor, Malet Street

Professor Sir Brian Vickers (Institute of English Studies): 'Software 
programs, authorship attribution, and the nature of language'

All welcome. Refreshments provided.

Abstract. The goal of attribution studies is to identify, and 
distinguish between, authors on the basis of their styles, in prose or 
verse compositions. Style is a complex of many factors, subject to 
changing historical definitions and involving current conceptions of 
effective and expressive communication, as taught by rhetoric, and 
clarity of argument, the province of logic. In individual genres, such 
as tragedy, comedy, epic, satire, pastoral, style is affected by 
changing concepts of the linguistic utterance appropriate to a 
character's social status, age, and gender. Underlying all these 
considerations is the nature of language itself, a rule-based system in 
which lexicon, morphology, grammar, and syntax all interact and offer 
speakers and writers an infinite range of choices, some of which will 
reveal individuality.

The primary characteristic of natural languages is that any individual 
utterance, like discourse as a whole, is made up of all classes of 
words, woven together according to their role in creating meaningful 
communication. All of the sentences making up this abstract use nouns, 
verbs, modifiers (adjectives, adverbs), prepositions, conjunctions, 
pronouns, and so forth. The metaphor of weaving is at least as old as 
Plato, who used it in two dialogues: the Statesman (277d-278h), where he 
speaks of the interweaving ( sumploke ) of letters into syllables; and 
the Sophist (261e-262d), where on the phonological level of language he 
uses the weaving metaphor to describe the workings of syntax.

The currently most popular methods of partially automated attribution 
study are working with a very limited model of language, below the level 
of meaning, hence unable to analyse the many variations of linguistic 
choice that characterise individual utterances, and on the creation of 
which writers devote so much care. This is not to suggest that we should 
abandon quantitative analysis of writing styles; merely to point out 
that current methods, despite their immensely fast and accurate text 
processing and highly sophisticated statistical methodology, are 
approximative at best, breaking up language into (some of) its 
constituent elements, and thus missing out on fundamental aspects of 
linguistic communication. Nor does my critique rule out the possibility 
that future developments may vastly improve our performance.

After the pars destruens , as Renaissance writers would call it, my pars 
construens will suggest a new alliance between authorship attribution 
and a quantitative method of analysing language, namely corpus 
linguistics, and will describe a method that, in its own modest way, has 
already overcome some of the limitations in our current semi-automated 
methods, with their fissiparous treatment of language.

Bio. Sir Brian Vickers is Emeritus Professor of the Eidgenössische 
Technische Hochschule Zürich, a Fellow of the British Academy, a Foreign 
Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a 
Distinguished Senior Fellow of the School of Advanced Study, University 
of London. He is Director of The Oxford Francis Bacon and General Editor 
of The Complete Works of John Ford. He has written and edited about 
forty books. Recently he has been focussing on authorship attributions 
connected with the Shakespeare canon, and has published Shakespeare, 
Co-Author. A Historical Study of Five Co-Authored Plays (Oxford, 2002); 
'Counterfeiting' Shakespeare. Evidence, Authorship, and John Ford's 
Funerall Elegie (Cambridge, 2002); and Shakespeare, A Lover's Complaint, 
and John Davies of Hereford (Cambridge, 2007).

Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Professor, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney,
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

        Date: Sat, 06 Nov 2010 07:35:44 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: "Texts and Literacy in the Digital Age" Conference, The Hague, 16-17December 2010

> Subject: 	"Texts and Literacy in the Digital Age" Conference, The Hague,
> 16-17 December 2010
> Date: 	Fri, 5 Nov 2010 13:03:13 +0100
> From: 	Carmen Morlon <Carmen.Morlon at KB.nl>

Dear colleagues

*Registration for Texts and Literacy in the Digital Age conference is
now open*

The "Texts and Literacy in the Digital Age" Conference
(http://www.libereurope.eu/node/550), jointly organised by the
Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands), Leiden
University (Book and Digital Media Studies), LIBER and Dr. P.A.
Tiele-Stichting will be held at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague 
on 16 and 17 December 2010.

In this two-day conference, prominent and inspiring speakers will
address the way scholarly communication in the humanities and social
sciences is changing and, more importantly, what that means to authors,
intermediaries and users.

Registration is now open.

Please note that the number of delegates is limited to 150.

Further details on accommodation and travel arrangements, the
registration form and the online programme can be found at

We look forward to welcoming you in The Hague.

With best wishes

Carmen Morlon

On behalf of the Organising Committee

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