Mining the creative mind
On the 24 June 2014 international researchers gathered in Newcastle for the Centre for Literary and Linguistic Computing Beyond Authorship Symposium.
The symposium brought together the seemingly separate worlds of statistics and literature, with a focus on using the statistics of word use to track writing style in literature from 1500 to 1800 – especially the plays of Shakespeare's era.
Professor Hugh Craig from the School of Humanities and Social Science, author of articles such as Shakespeare and Cancer: How Bard Can It Be? and Shakespeare Had Fewer Words, But Doper Rhymes, Than Rappers, said, "Any use of numbers in literature is controversial, and there were debates about whether the statistics really relate to how readers and audiences respond to these works, and about which of the many possible methods works best.
"However the focus was really on what statistical methods can tell us beyond the question of who wrote what," said Professor Craig
The symposium celebrated all the rich discoveries there are to be made with computers searching and counting vast reams of electronic text – which can also be used in life saving procedures like cancer diagnostics.
Faculty of Education and Arts Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor John Germov, who welcomed international visitors to the event, says, "The work that was done at this symposium presents one of the most exciting futures for the humanities, as well as curation and conservation of cultural heritage."
"Literary study is changing, and the group in Newcastle will be right there at the forefront of the changes," said Professor Craig.
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