Jan Rybicki, Assistant Professor, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, PL

Strand Campus, King's Building, K 6.63, 10 November 2017, 3-4.30pm

Co-sponsored event with funding from the Department of Digital Humanities Speaker Series.

Harper Lee, Elena Ferrante and Some Other Less Sensational but Equally Interesting Cases in Authorship Attribution/Stylometry/Macroanalysis/Distant Reading

Very frequent words

The occurrences of very frequent words in 10,000 novels of 17th - 21st c.

Reading literature with computers seems to oscillate back and forth between the micro and the macro scales. As more and more texts become available, per fas or per nefas, in the electronic medium, machines allow us to count anything that is countable in texts, literary or otherwise. But then these minute details of literary creation are combined into big datasets to provide new outlooks on individual authors and on entire literary traditions; on literature in the original or in translation or both. Stylometrists seem to be trying to do two things at once: one relatively small thing and one pretty big. The small thing – authorship attribution of individual writings – has always been their main if not their only raison d’être in mainstream literary studies. But the big thing is that they take giant leaps into classification of as many literary texts as their digital collections and their computers can handle. Can the twain: close and distant reading come together in “a beautiful friendship”?

Registration is free but please register here.

This event is part of the part of the DRaL (Distant Reading across Languages) project collaboratively run by the King's College London Department of Digital Humanities, the King's Digital Lab and the Department of Informatics.


Jan Rybicki is Assistant Professor at the Institute of English Studies, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland. His research expanded from traditional literary and translation studies into stylometry and distant reading. A founding member of Computational Stylistics Group, the makers of the stylo R package that has since become a major tool in quantitative textual analysis, he has published in this field in Literary and Linguistic Computing/Digital Scholarship in the HumanitiesThe R Journal and in Information Sciences. Rybicki is also an active literary translator with more than 30 novels translated from English into Polish; he is now working on his 8th book by John le Carré, A Legacy of Spies.