Topic Modeling and the Sociology of Literature

Thursday, 16 October 2014 - 12:00pm1:30pm

Seminar 627, Penn Library, 3420 Walnut Street

Topic Modeling and the Sociology of Literature

Andrew Goldstone

Assistant Professor of English
Rutgers University

This workshop introduces probabilistic topic modeling for humanists, focusing on applications in literary studies. Using my own work on the history of literary study as an example, I'll give an informal introduction to the algorithm, survey the nuts-and-bolts technical choices involved in modeling, and discuss the challenges of interpreting the algorithm's output. Strange and novel as this technique may seem, I'll argue that it may be surprisingly well-suited to investigating some of literary studies' central questions about the relation between literary history and social phenomena—and to rediscovering the methodological concerns the humanities share with the social sciences.

Lunch will be provided.

Pre-registration required. Please email us with your name and academic affiliation.


Our T&T Luncheons are informal show-and-tell sessions where digital researchers share their knowledge about specific tools or methods of DH research. These luncheons are open to all members of the Penn community. Food and drink are provided.

T&T Luncheons may be led by researchers from SAS, from other schools at Penn, or from other universities. Most sessions are conducted by recent recipients of DH Forum training grants. We award approximately 12 of these each year to enable graduate students or occasionally faculty to attend classes at a DH Institute or other established certification program in digital research methods. After receiving their training, our awardees lead a T&T luncheon to share some of what they learned.

If you are interested in leading a Tools & Techniques luncheon, please drop us a note.