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Conference “Digital Stylistics in Romance Studies and Beyond”

José Calvo Tello and Ulrike Henny-Krahmer

From February 27th to March 2nd, the conference “Digital Stylistics in Romance Studies and Beyond” took place at the University of Würzburg. It was organized by the CLiGS group and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The goal of the conference was to bring together international experts in Digital Stylistics to discuss and further research in this interdisciplinary field which is concerned with the study of linguistic and literary style by means of computational methods. The title of the conference suggested a special focus on work with corpora in Romance languages but was also open to other languages (see the Call for Papers for details). The programme shows the range of topics, objects of study, languages and periods that was covered by the participants coming from all over Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. Two renowned keynote speakers were invited: Douglas Biber (Applied Linguistics) from the Northern Arizona University and Glenn Roe (Digital Humanities) from the Sorbonne Université in Paris. The conference took place at several venues in Würzburg: the main programme in the new building of the Graduate Schools of Life Sciences and Humanities on the campus Hubland Nord and the inauguration and keynotes in the Würzburg Residence in the city center.

Venue of the inauguration and the keynotes: the Würzburg Residence in the city center. Image source:
Venue of the main conference programme: the new building of the Graduate Schools of Life Sciences and the Humanities on the campus Hubland Nord.

For conferences in Digital Humanities it has become common practice to establish a Twitter hashtag which allows the participants to share information about the event with the wider audience of this social media channel. We did so for this conference, as well, and the tweets about “Digital Stylistics in Romance Studies and Beyond” can be found under the hashtag #dsrom as well as #digitalstylistics.

Wednesday. The conference started with the inauguration ceremony on Wednesday evening in a marvelous location, the Toscanasaal in the Würzburg Residence. After the warm welcoming words from Robert Hesselbach, the initiator of the project Christof Schöch, and the Vice-President of the University, Baris Kabak, it was time for the keynote of Douglas Biber. He is one of the most influential linguists of the last decades and a pioneer in the linguistic analysis of groups of texts (text types, genres, registers). He used the method Factor Analysis (and Principal Component Analysis) to observe the correlations between words and linguistic annotations, observing that there are two functional dimensions or components that tend to reappear, independently of the language and corpus used: narrative vs. non-narrative, and oral vs. literate discourse.

The first keynote speaker Douglas Biber (Northern Arizona University) giving his talk “Using corpus-based analysis to study fictional style: A multi-dimensional analysis of variation among and within novels”.
At the conference inauguration in the Toskana Hall of the Würzburg Residence. From left to right: Daniel Schlör (CLiGS), Ulrike Henny-Krahmer (CLiGS), Douglas Biber (Northern Arizona University), Robert Hesselbach (CLiGS), Glenn Roe (Sorbonne Université), José Calvo Tello (CLiGS), Fotis Jannidis (Chair of Computational Literary Studies at the University of Würzburg), Christof Schöch (University of Trier, CLiGS initiator), Baris Kabak (Vice-President of the University of Würzburg).

Thursday. The conference kept going the next day with three talks that used linguistic annotation to study several aspects of literary texts. First, Simon Gabay (Neuchâtel) gave the talk “Français vs francois: does linguistic normalisation affect stylometric results?” analysing the Molière-Corneille case. He compared the results of stylometric analysis (cluster analysis using the distance measure Cosine Delta) using either tokens or lexical information extracted with NLP tools. The second talk was by Andreas van Cranenburgh (Groningen):  “Dutch weak and strong pronouns as a stylistic marker of literariness”. He was part of the project The Riddle of Literary Quality, showing several results, such as that literary perception is to a certain degree predictable, and that the perception of literariness has correlations with pronouns (less pronouns, more literary)  and the proportion of strong pronouns (the more literary, the higher the proportion of strong pronouns). The third talk was given by Sascha Diwersy, who presented the Project PhraseoRom, funded by the French and German ministries and based at several universities. In this project the goal is to analyze syntactic-lexical patterns in a corpus of contemporary novels in French, German and English. Between the coffee break and lunch, two more talks explored other topics: first Martin Wynne from Oxford discussed rhetorical patterns in a corpus of letters (Electronic Enlightenment). Then George Mikros from Athens talked about the application of the General Imposters’ method to Elena Ferrante’s non literary production, with the results that she is probably Domenico Starnone in her novels, but that the journalistic production seems to be produced by several hands of the publishing house.

After lunch, two talks focused on the topic of literary complexity, but from different perspectives, concerning different languages and data. First, Katharina Dziuk Lameira, a PhD candidate from Kassel, presented her project based on a Spanish corpus, in which she observes the relation between linguistic features (among them lexical and syntactic complexity), literary phenomena such as several types of metaphora, and the perceived difficulty for German learners. The following talk was by Fotis Jannidis, who also analyzed text complexity, using a very large collection of dime novels (Heftromane) from the German National Library, wondering whether the assumptions that high-brow literature has a greater sentence complexity or richer vocabulary can be confirmed. His results show that high-brow literature tends to have longer sentences, but it does not contain a richer vocabulary than specific subgenres of the dime novel such as science fiction or adventure novels. The two other talks of the day were also given by researchers from the University of Würzburg: first, Julian Schröter explored the style of the German Novelle (short novels), applying Topic Modeling and PCA, observing historical patterns in the evolution of this genre. Finally, Daniel Schlör presented a bootstrapping approach for the annotation of rare classes in a text type dataset. In his work, human annotators decided whether segments of novels were descriptive, argumentative or narrative, finding that the last ones were easiest to recognize.

Friday. The talks on Friday morning were concerned with poetic style in different languages and periods. The first speaker was Jan Rohden from Göttingen, who analyzed the distinctive elements of Petrarca’s style when compared to his contemporaries and successors, using the tool stylo. He found out that Petrarca and his successors tended to avoid verbs and prefer nouns, especially nouns referring to the body and landscape. The second talk was given by Laura Hernández Lorenzo from Sevilla about the application of Digital Stylistics to Spanish Golden Age poetry, in particular to the author Fernando de Herrera. She discussed the question whether Herrera can be considered a transitional poet between Renaissance and Baroque, also using stylo as a tool. The third speaker in the morning was Anne-Sophie Bories from Basel with a presentation on “A Tempo for Negritude in Césaire’s Cahier” in which she analyzed the proportion of different syllable types in the verse lines of this long poem. After the coffee break, Jonathan Armoza from New York talked about non-negative matrix factorization as a method to examine the parts of speech in Emily Dickinson’s Fascicles, around 1,800 poems collected in manuscript books. He gave an introduction into matrix factorization, before he presented his approach of comparing the resulting part of speech profiles of the different texts. The last talk of the morning session was given by Nanette Rißler-Pipka on cross-linguistic stylometry. She examined Picasso’s writings in Spanish and French with stylo, using the same parameters for both languages. She asked if the change of language entails a change of style in Picasso’s writings but came to the conclusion that he uses the same system of deconstructing language in both Spanish and French.

In the afternoon, the conference continued with two talks by members of the CLiGS group: Ulrike Henny-Krahmer and José Calvo Tello presented work from their PhD projects. In her talk with the topic “Family Resemblance in Genre Stylistics”, Henny-Krahmer introduced into different concepts of the genre as a category: classes, types, and families. She then presented a case study for historical novels from Argentina, Mexico and Cuba, analyzing the internal structure of the subgenre by topics and most frequent words in a network of nearest neighbours, showing that subtypes of historical novels can be identified through a chain of relationships. José Calvo tackled the question about which type of features (linguistic frequencies vs. literary metadata) work best for subgenre classification, finding that using only features generated from linguistic annotation or only features based on metadata do not surpass clearly the classification’s results by simple tokens, but that their combination does.

In the evening, the second keynote of the conference was held by Glenn Roe, Professor of Digital Humanities at Sorbonne Université in Paris, about “Voltaire’s Style: A Study in Digital Methods”. In his talk, he outlined the notion of style as it developed in computational literary approaches, from early authorship attribution studies and small-scale stylistic analyses to quantitative studies of literary style in recent years, taking Voltaire as a test-case to argue for the need to revisit the stylometric notion of style. Also this keynote took place in the beautiful ambience of the Würzburg Residence’s Toscana Hall. After the keynote, all the participants joined for the conference dinner in the restaurant Alter Kranen close to the Main river.

Glenn Roe, Professor of Digital Humanities at Sorbonne Université in Paris, giving his talk about “Voltaire’s Style: A Study in Digital Methods”.

Saturday. The morning started with two talks about stylometry applied to Spanish texts. First Álvaro Cuéllar González (Kentucky) presented a large collection of Spanish theatre from the Golden Age period, evaluating stylometric methods for authorship attribution in non disputed cases, and later applying these methods to specific cases such as La adversa fortuna de don Bernardo Cabrera (traditionally attributed to Lope, but after the stylometric analysis to Amescua) or Mujeres y criados, recently discovered and confirmed to be very close to the style of Lope. He was followed by José Manuel Fradejas Rueda (Valladolid) who presented a complicated case of the application of stylometry to the different versions of the medieval law text Las siete partidas. The last two talks studied different aspects of French and Italian texts. First, Clémence Jacquot (Montpellier) and Ilaria Vidotto (Grenoble) gave more information about the specific lexical-syntactic constructions (‘motifs’) analyzed in the PhraseoRom project: to descend the stairs, to appear on the screen, to look through the window, observing the advantages of linguistically motivated units, but also the challenges of identifying them across paradigmatic and syntactic variation. The last talk was held by Simone Rebora (Verona), who analyzed a collection of literary reviews of several types (from social platforms, magazines, and scientific journals), using Machine Learning algorithms to automatically detect the types of review.

A final discussion was lead by Robert Hesselbach and Christof Schöch who summarized the variety of languages, genres, periods, and topics covered by the speakers of the conference, showing that the participants’ contributions matched the theme of the conference quite well. The span of subjects already offers promising perspectives on “Digital Stylistics in Romance Studies and Beyond” which will be taken up in the organization of the conference proceedings, to be edited by Christof Schöch and the members of the CLiGS group.

As the local organizers of this conference, we thank all the speakers for their contributions and all the participants for their interest and the lively discussions after every talk. We hope that everyone enjoyed this event as much as we did!

CLiGS @DH2018 in Mexico

by José Calvo Tello, Ulrike Henny-Krahmer, and Daniel Schlör


Vom 26. bis zum 29. Juni fand die jährliche ADHO-Konferenz in Mexiko City statt. Das Thema der DH2018 war “Puentes/Bridges”. Mitglieder und auch MentorInnen der CLiGS-Gruppe haben an der Tagung teilgenommen. Im Geiste der mehrsprachigen Veranstaltung berichten wir über unsere Erfahrungen in drei Sprachen (auf Deutsch, Englisch und Spanisch)!

Der Veranstaltungsort der DH2018 war das Maria Isabel Sheraton-Hotel, das sich direkt im Zentrum von Mexiko City auf der repräsentativen Straße “Paseo de la Reforma” befindet, neben dem Monument “Ángel de la Independencia”:

Im Vorprogramm der Konferenz nahmen wir an dem Workshop “The re-creation of Harry Potter: Tracing style and content across novels, movie scripts and fanfiction” teil, der von Mike Kestemont und Enrique Manjacavas durchgeführt wurde. Über den Workshop wurde bereits von Corina Koolen in einem Blog Post berichtet, der auf der Webseite der ADHO-Arbeitsgruppe “Digital Literary Stylistics” (DLS) veröffentlicht ist – siehe “Harry Potter, computational fun and sexy gains”. Die Beziehung zwischen einer Reihe von Romanen und Adaptionen von ihnen in Drehbüchern und Fanfiction zu untersuchen war ein interessantes Anwendungsgebiet für stilometrische Methoden, mit dem wir uns bisher noch nicht auseinandergesetzt hatten (da CLiGS sich vor allem mit Literatur der vergangenen Jahrhunderte – vor dem 20.! – beschäftigt).

Die Konferenz selbst wurde am Dienstag Abend eröffnet. Den Eröffnungsvortrag hielt Janet Chávez Santiago, eine Aktivistin für indigene Sprachen, die aus Oaxaca stammt. In ihrem Vortrag mit dem Titel “Tramando la palabra” / “Weaving the word” betonte sie, dass Sprecher indigener Sprachen die digitalen Medien stärker für sich nutzen könnten, um ihr Wort innerhalb der eigenen Gemeinschaft und darüber hinaus zu “verweben”.

Ein paar der Vorträge, die wir während der Konferenz gehört haben und interessant fanden, waren:

Das vollständige Programm der DH2018 steht natürlich online zur Verfügung und auch die Abstracts aller Beiträge können heruntergeladen werden.

Die CLiGS-Gruppe selbst war bei der DH2018 mit den folgenden Beiträgen involviert:

Poster zur CLiGS-Textbox in einer Ausstellung der Universität Würzburg (nach der DH2018)

Ulrike Henny-Krahmer bei ihrem Vortrag zu Sentiments und Gattungen in Hispanoamerikanischen Romanen

José Calvo Tello, Ulrike Henny-Krahmer und Daniel Schlör im María Isabel Sheraton-Hotel

Christof Schöch und Ulrike Henny-Krahmer moderierten außerdem jeweils eine Vortrags-Session und José Calvo Tello war an einer Kooperation mit Teresa Santa María, Elena Martínez Carro und Concepción Jiménez von der Universidad Internacional de La Rioja beteiligt. Zusammen trugen sie vor zum Thema “¿Existe correlación entre importancia y centralidad? Evaluación de personajes con redes sociales en obras teatrales de la Edad de Plata?”.

Die Reihe der CLiGS-Beiträge zeigt vermutlich, wie gern wir an der diesjährigen DH-Konferenz teilnehmen wollten. 🙂

Den Schlussvortrag hielt Schuyler Esprit vom Research Institute at Dominica State College zum Thema “Digital Experimentation, Courageous Citizenship and Caribbean Futurism” / “Experimentación Digital, Ciudadanía Valiente y Futurismo Caribeño”. Sie hob hervor, dass die Digital Humanities einen starken Beitrag dazu leisten können, die soziale und umweltpolitische Gerechtigkeit in der Karibik voranzubringen. Es war toll, dass die Leitvorträge von zwei Frauen aus der Karibik und Mexiko gehalten wurden und auch, dass die Eröffnungs- und Schlussveranstaltungen von einer Dolmetscherin begleitet wurden, so dass sie in verschiedenen Sprachen gehalten werden konnten.


From June 26 to 29, the annual conference of ADHO was held in Mexico City. The theme of DH2018 was “Puentes/Bridges”. Members and also mentors of the CLiGS group attended the conference. In the spirit of the multilingual event, we share our experiences in three languages (in German, English, and Spanish)!

The venue of DH2018 was the María Isabel Sheraton Hotel right in the centre of Mexico City, on the representative street “Paseo de la Reforma” and next to the monument “Ángel de la Independencia”:

As part of the pre-conference program, we attended the workshop “The re-creation of Harry Potter: Tracing style and content across novels, movie scripts and fanfiction” which was held by Mike Kestemont and Enrique Manjacavas. There is already a report on the workshop written by Corina Koolen and published on the blog of the ADHO special interest group “Digital Literary Stylistics” (DLS) – see “Harry Potter, computational fun and sexy gains”. To examine the relationship between a series of novels and adapations of it in the form of movie scripts and fanfiction was an interesting scenario for the application of stylometric methods which was new to us (as the CLiGS group is primarily concerned with literature of past centuries – before the 20th!).

The conference itself was opened on Tuesday evening with the opening keynote “Tramando la palabra” / “Weaving the word”, held by Janet Chávez Santiago, an indigenous languages activist from Oaxaca. In her speech  she suggested that digital media can and should be used by speakers of indigenous languages to “weave their word” into their own community and beyond.

Some of the presentations that we attended during the conference and found interesting:

The full program of the DH2018 conference is of course available online and the abstracts of all the contributions can also be downloaded.

The CLiGS group was itself actively involved in the DH2018 with the following contributions:

The poster on the CLiGS textbox on exhibition at the University of Würzburg (after DH2018)

Ulrike Henny-Krahmer presenting about sentiments and genre in Spanish American Novels

José Calvo Tello, Ulrike Henny-Krahmer, and Daniel Schlör in the María Isabel Sheraton Hotel

Christof Schöch and Ulrike Henny-Krahmer also served as session chairs and José Calvo Tello was involved in a collaboration with Teresa Santa María, Elena Martínez Carro, and Concepción Jiménez from the Universidad Internacional de La Rioja, presenting “¿Existe correlación entre importancia y centralidad? Evaluación de personajes con redes sociales en obras teatrales de la Edad de Plata?”.

The list of CLiGS contributions probably shows that we really hoped to be able to attend this year’s conference. 🙂

The conference was closed with a keynote by Schuyler Esprit from the Research Institute at Dominica State College about “Digital Experimentation, Courageous Citizenship and Caribbean Futurism” / “Experimentación Digital, Ciudadanía Valiente y Futurismo Caribeño”. She highlighted the impact that digital humanities can have to bring social and environmental justice forward in the Caribbean region. It was great that two female speakers from the Caribbean and Mexico holding the keynotes and also an interpreter accompanying both the opening and closing ceremonies so that they could be held in different languages.


Desde Junio 26 a 29, la conferencia anual de ADHO tuvo lugar en la Ciudad de México. El tema de la DH2018 fue “Puentes/Bridges”. Miembros y también mentores del grupo CLiGS participaron en la conferencia. Siguiendo el espíritu del evento multilingual, escribimos sobre nuestras experiencias en tres idiomas (en alemán, inglés, y español)!

La sede del DH2018 fue el Hotel María Isabel Sheraton, en el centro de la Ciudad de México, en la calle central “Paseo de la Reforma” y al lado del monumento “El Ángel de la Independencia”:

Como parte del programa previo a la conferencia, asistimos al taller “La recreación de Harry Potter: estilo de rastreo y contenido en novelas, guiones de películas y fanfiction”, que dieron Mike Kestemont y Enrique Manjacavas. Corina Koolen  y a ha publicado un informe sobre el tallerpublicado en el blog del SIG de ADHO “Digital Literary Stylistics” (DLS): “Harry Potter, computational fun and sexy gains”. Examinar la relación entre una serie de novelas y sus adaptaciones en forma de guiones cinematográficos y fan-fiction fue un escenario interesante para la aplicación de métodos estilométricos que era nuevo para nosotros (¡ya que el grupo CLiGS se ocupa principalmente de literatura anterior al siglo20!).

La conferencia fue inaugurada el martes por la noche con la ponencia magistral “Tramando la palabra”, realizada por Janet Chávez Santiago, activista de lenguas indígenas de Oaxaca. En su discurso sugirió que los medios digitales pueden y deben ser utilizados por los hablantes de las lenguas indígenas para “tejer su palabra” en su propia comunidad y más allá.

Algunas de las presentaciones a las que asistimos durante la conferencia y que resultaron interesantes:

    • Varios investigadores de universidades de los Estados Unidos presentaron un panel sobre “Experimental Humanities” con diferentes propuestas sobre experimentación (“Artes experimentales”, “Ciencias empíricas”). ¿Será “Experimental Humanities” la próxima etiqueta importante que cubra la relación  entre informática y humanidades?
    • Ethan Reed presentó „Measured Unrest In The Poetry Of The Black Arts Movement“, en el que utilizó análisis del sentimiento para cuantificar los sentimientos de la poesía escrita por afroamericanos y descubrió lo sesgadas que estas herramientas pueden estar en relación tanto con colores como con grupos étnicos, y por lo tanto, cómo de engañosos pueden ser los resultados.
    • Alexander Dunst y Rita Hartel, de Paderborn (Alemania), presentaron sus resultados sobre la clasificación de textos por autoría y género, pero no en novelas u otros textos literarios, sino en cómics. Ellos también son parte de un grupo de investigación similar al nuestro y es estimulante ver su avance en preguntas muy cercanas a las nuestras, pero en un medio diferente.
    • Corina Koolen presentó “Women’s Books versus Books by Women” (quizás traducible al español como “Libros de mujeres versus libros para mujeres”) en el que abordó la percepción de la calidad de los textos escritos por mujeres y la percepción de libros destinados a un público femenino, a través de métodos estilométricos. Esta fue su investigación en el marco del proyecto “The Riddle of Literary Quality” y su propio (y recientemente publicado) doctorado.
    • Jonathan Pearche Reeve dio una charla sobre el análisis del “Late Style” en varios autores de habla inglesa, utilizando métodos estilométricos.

Por supuesto, el programa completo de la conferencia DH2018 está disponible en línea y también se pueden descargar los resúmenes de todas las contribuciones.

El grupo CLiGS participó activamente en el DH2018 con las siguientes contribuciones:

El póster de  CLiGS Textbox en exhibición en la Universidad de Würzburg (después de DH2018)

Ulrike Henny-Krahmer presentando sentimientos y género literario en las novelas hispanoamericanas

José Calvo Tello, Ulrike Henny-Krahmer y Daniel Schlör en el Hotel María Isabel Sheraton

Christof Schöch y Ulrike Henny-Krahmer también se desempeñaron como presidentes de sesión y José Calvo Tello participó en una colaboración con Teresa Santa María, Elena Martínez Carro y Concepción Jiménez de la Universidad Internacional de La Rioja, presentando „¿Existe correlación entre importancia y centralidad? Evaluación de personajes con redes sociales en obras teatrales de la Edad de Plata“.

La lista de contribuciones CLiGS probablemente muestra que realmente esperamos poder asistir a la conferencia de este año. 🙂

La conferencia fue clausurada por Schuyler Esprit del Research Institute de Dominica.

La conferencia fue clausurada por Schuyler Esprit del Instituto de Investigación de Dominica State College sobre „Digital Experimentation, Courageous Citizenship and Caribbean Futurism“ / „Experimentación Digital, Ciudadanía Valiente y Futurismo Caribeño“. Destacó el impacto que las humanidades digitales pueden tener para llevar adelante la justicia social y ambiental en la región del Caribe. Fue estupendo que dos mujeres del Caribe y México impartieran las ponencias magistrales y un intérprete que las acompañó tanto en la ceremonia de apertura como la de clausura para que pudieran entenderse en diferentes idiomas.

LOD Workshop: “Literary corpora unchained” – (almost) live!

From April 23rd to 25th 2018, the CLiGS grouped welcomes two researchers from Spain: Helena Bermúdez Sabel and Pablo Ruiz Fabo from the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) in Madrid came to Würzburg to give a workshop on Linked Open Data (LOD) and to present their project POSTDATA (“Poetry Standardization and Linked Open Data”). As part of their visit, they will hold an evening lecture entitled “Linked Open Data: Unchain your Corpora”. The main goals of the workshop, which has been organized by José Calvo Tello, are to exchange experiences in modelling and creating literary corpora in the POSTDATA and CLiGS projects, as well as to discuss possibilities of using LOD approaches to enrich and interlink these data. LOD Workshop: “Literary corpora unchained” – (almost) live! weiterlesen

CLiGS at the Day of DH 2016

On April 8th was the Day of DH! – The occasion on which the world wide DH community makes a snapshot of its members acitivities during the day.

Where were the members of the CLiGS group? What did they do on that day?

As you can see on the map, we spent the day in different places: José Calvo and Daniel Schlör were in Würzburg, Ulrike Henny in Cologne and Christof Schöch was blogging from Kraków.

Snippet of a geomap created with the Google Chart API

To get to know what we actually did on that day, check out the blog posts on the Day of DH 2016 website:

Our overall impression was that people were very busy on that day (188 members representing the international DH community, some non-active members, some bustling Good-Morning-posts). We hope that the interest in the Day of DH event will continue and hopefully grow in the future!

How good are our texts, really? Quality assurance for literary texts from various sources

by Ulrike Henny and Christof Schöch

Some weeks ago, we made our “New Year’s release” of text collections available. We publish the texts in the “CLiGS” group’s GitHub repository called “textbox and archive each release on Zenodo where they get a DOI. The texts are encoded in TEI with relatively detailed metadata. The collections are subsets of the texts we are using in our various research projects in computational genre stylistics and contain narrative texts from France, Spain and Latin America. The texts have been gathered from various sources, most notably among them Ebooks libres et gratuits and Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes

How good are our texts, really? Quality assurance for literary texts from various sources weiterlesen

What did we actually encode? Analysing XML collections with Python

One could assume that one of the first steps in a project involving the encoding of information with markup or the creation of XML files is to create a schema governing encoding procedures. But I’d say that this might not be necessarily true, especially when the subject matter is not entirely clear right from the start, in terms of a data model and features describing it. What did we actually encode? Analysing XML collections with Python weiterlesen