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Title:Coordinating Multiple Collections to Interpret Literary Trends
Author(s):Underwood, Ted
Subject(s):coordinating multiple collections
Abstract:In the early 19th Century, British writers argued that the preceding generation had relied too heavily on Latinate words, and suggested that the language should be restored to its native roots. But the significance of this argument remains unclear. Had the proportion of Latinate words in print really changed? And if so, was the etymological dimension of the shift the dimension that mattered? Or was the debate about Latinate diction a proxy for some broader conflict between competing models of literary refinement? This paper describes an approach to these questions that relies on identifying groups of words whose frequencies changed in closely correlated ways. Because shifts in diction involve multiple genres and unfold over a period of a century or more, they need to be characterized in a large collection. But to understand why these changes happened, the patterns that emerge may need to be analyzed in a smaller collection with richer metadata. The SEASR environment developed by the Automated Learning Group at NCSA is making it possible to coordinate these two kinds of inquiry. The question of Latinate diction may turn out to be a useful model for similar literary applications of text-mining, where scholars need to characterize a trend that isn't easily approached as a problem of classification or semantic analysis.
Issue Date:2011
Publisher:Graduate School of Library and Information Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-03-12

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