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

Participants at the DH17 Conference by Country and Continent

​​In recent years I have published a couple of posts about the participants at DH conferences: HDH 2015 and DHd 2016. It was about time to publish about the DH conference. So let’s go directly to the visualization and I will explain the details later:

Authors at the DH17 Conference
Authors at the DH17 Conference

So, what is in these bars? Each author (regardless of how many proposals or roles they were involved in) at the conference has been counted once using the HTML view of conftool; the data has been grouped by country of their current position (cleaning this information semi-automatically) and the results are plotted as bars. Also, the continent defines the color of the bars. So, some details: if a conference paper had 7 co-authors, each of them is counted once. So the countries with a bigger tradition of having multiple co-authors are more likely to appear over-represented. On the other hand, the very active people that are part of several papers and panels only count once. I think both criteria balance the results at the end.

Using the data, the results show different group of countries:

  1. The lead country is USA (not a surprise)
  2. After that, we see a group of three countries with a lot more researchers than the rest: Germany (123), Canada (92) and the UK (73). I didn’t expect to find Germany in the second position
  3. The next country has less than the half of the researchers: France with 36, followed by Switzerland, Netherlands and Japan; all of them very closely together.
  4. The fourth group is built of countries with more then ten researchers: Ireland, Taiwan, Russia, Austria, Poland, Mexico, Spain, and followed very closely (but with less than 10 people) by Belgium
  5. After that we can consider the rest of the countries as part of the long tail with researchers between 6 and 1 (a single country with this value: Denmark!)
  6. Can we think for a moment about the whole region of the world that is just not represented at all in these bars?

There are other aspects that are remarkable: Italy had only 3 authors (!). China had only 1, while Taiwan had 15. There is not a single person from the Arabic World. Actually not a single person coming from the region between Morocco and Pakistan. Not a single soul from Central America, Carribbean or Andes.

Please, don’t take this a a criticism of the conference. I am trying to understand better our community and am simply verbalizing some surprises. And remember that these references of the countries are not the country where the author was born, but where they are currently working. For example, in these bars I am counted as an author from Germany, although my only passport is printed by the Reino de España.

Now, we can group the information by continent and see how they are represented:

Authors at the DH17 Conference by Continent
Authors at the DH17 Conference by Continent

A word of notice about how I divided America: there is no satisfying decision about it. If we group USA and Canada together to see better how Latin America is represented, then we can’t use the concept of North America since Mexico is also part of North America. So I decided to group together all American countries. Anyway there were only 5: USA (313), Canada (92), Mexico (11), Brazil (2) and Argentina (2). So Latin America would have a bar twice as large as the one of Africa.

There are two countries split between Europe and Asia: Turkey (6) and Russia (12). In these cases I decided to follow the rule “put the doubts in the smaller category so they don’t get lost in the large one”.

Even if we only sum USA+Canada (313 + 92 = 405) and make the biggest possible version of Europe with Russia and Turkey (385 + 12 + 6 = 403), the North Americans are still the largest group by literally a couple of people. What is clear is that the two largest groups of authors at the DH Conference are basically composed by people working in Europe and Canada+USA. This is not a surprise, although I didn’t expect that the number of Europeans would be almost as big as the number of North Americans, even when the conference is on their side of the Atlantic.

Let’s see what will happen next year in DH2018 Mexico! Will there be more authors working in different countries of Latin America? From other parts of the world? The deadline will probably be in some months, so, stop procrastinating with posts about DH participants and let’s work on the next proposal!

Using Stylo in Python

Why would you do that?

Since a couple of years I have been using stylometric methods to analyse texts. I learned to use the great stylometric tool Stylo (written in R) at the European Summer School of Digital Humanities in Leipzig from two of the developers: Maciej Eder and Jan Rybicki.

Some months after I started my PhD as a member of the junior research group “Computational Literary Genre Stylistics” CLiGS, guided by Christof Schöch, at theat the Computerphilologie Professorship (hold by Prof. Jannidis) at the University of Würzburg, Germany. I was told that I had to learn Python because that was the programming mother tongue of the department. And I did so. Since then, many of my projects are a mix of very basic R script that call Stylo, and other more sofisticated scripts in Python that make the preprocess and the evaluation.

I am not the only person in this R-Python situation; actually in the last years at least two tools for Stylometry have been written in Python: Pystyl and PyDelta. So, why do I keep working with Stylo if I know more Python? For several reasons:

  • Stylo is very well documented (installation, preparation of the corpus, general use…)
  • It has a mailing group where you get answers and help
  • It has been tested by hundreds of researchers
  • The developers teach about the tool
  • And they use the feedback of these workshops to improve Stylo (I have seen Maciej speed-coding some changes in Stylo during the class, uploading to CRAN, and asking the people to update Stylo)
  • Because my PhD-tutors recommend me to do so

My stylometric tests are becoming more and more complex so it is starting to be a pain to jump all the time between two groups of scripts. I knew that one can use other programming languages inside Python, so I thought it was worth a try to see if it was possible to use R and Stylo in Python.

This blog post and its sibling Notebook (that you can download as a Git Repository with the corpus and the output data) are the first findings. I would be really happy to receive opinion and feedback.


The module that we are going to use is rpy2, which allows you to work with R in Python. Since it is very possible that this module it is not in your computer, you have install it, for example using pip3 (more info in its documentation:

  • sudo pip3 install rpy2

That was not difficult, but to make it work was. After some time I realised that the problem was the version of R in my computer. Although the documentation of rpy2 says that a 3.0 version of R should be ok, it was not. Updating R in Ubuntu was trickier than expected, so I uninstalled and reinstalled R and Stylo again, making sure that R’s version was higher than 3.0. I am currently working with 3.3.

So, enough talking, if you have already installed rpy2, let’s import it:

I am not going to explain how exactly rpy2 works (because it is not the poing of this notebook and because I couldn’t). Let’s just say that whenever we see anything starting with R., it will be a R object that we can call from Python. Example:

We can convert these objects to Python objects:

Stylo in Python

In the same way we can call Stylo in Python:

Maybe it gives us a warning messages RRuntimeWarning: I think the problem is in the kind of answer that Stylo gives you in command line of R while running, that cannot give you in the same ways in Python. Does anyone know how to fix that?

In the repository of this Notebook you can find a subfolder with one Spanish corpus of the CLiGS Textbox (, prepared for stylometric tests. So I will define the path just as the current folder and I will call Stylo without the graphical user interface (if I would need the GUI we would just work in R!).

It is cool to see the answers of Stylo in a Jupyter Notebook running on Python, right?

When it is finished, a pop-up window from R will appear with the classic dendrogram that we all know:

Passing arguments

Now, how can I define the arguments for Stylo? Because, as explained in the documentation of Stylo, the arguments for maximum and minimum MFW are called mfw.min and mfw.max. Let’s try that:

Python complains: it doesn’t expect a dot in a variable name. The grammar of R and Python are not compatible. For this cases the documentation of rpy2 ( recommends to pass the arguments as a python dictionary in which the keys are strings with the names of the arguments in Stylo. Example with a couple of arguments:

Or we can define pass arguments for the kind of analysis, output that we want, the size of the n-gram…:

Now we have in our folder all the files that we have asked: png, distance table, features used… Nice!

But what if I want to work further with this data in Python?

Using the data from Stylo in Python

In the cell above I have called stylo() and saved its output in a variable called I_love_this_stuff (following the documentation of stylo 😉 ):

As we see, this variable is a ListVector of length 9. Each of these items contain different information from the analysis I have done. Let’s print the 100 first characters of the first items:

The first item contains actually the distance matrix:

As we see, this object is a matrix in R. Working in Python we would be happier with a Pandas Dataframe. For doing that, we convert first the matrix to a Numpy array, we use this array to load I_love_this_stuff to the dataframe, and we pass the names of the rows and the columns.

There you have your beautiful Delta Matrix of your corpus as Pandas Dataframe, using Stylo but working only with Python scripts. Yey!

Feedback, please!

This is just a try. Many things could be done in different ways, I have probably overseen things, maybe there are better ways to deal with this Python-R problem… So, please, let me know your thoughts (email, twitter, comments in the blog post…). Thanks in advance and thanks to Christof for his feedback about this Notebook!

How is the statistical typical Spanish Modernist Novel?

I am currently preparing an article about stylometry and genre in which I correlate clusters with metadata. One of the present results is that those texts with non typical values in its metadata are better distinguished than the rest: non realistic, texts in which the action takes place in other times or other continents… It seems that the well known structuralist categories of marked and unmarked could help organize the texts and genres. In order to get boolean values (like “yes“ or “no“) I looked for the central tendencies of the texts: which is the typical end of a novel of this period? Which is the typical gender or social level of its protagonist? How long are the novels of this period typically? Another way to see this information is: if I take a random novel from Spain and this period, what will I probably find?

For this purpose I am using the metadata of the Corpus de novelas de la Edad de Plata, from which you can find a first release on our GitHub account. The current state of the whole corpus contains around 250 novels from 1880 until 1939. I am not claiming that this corpus could be statistically representative for the literature of this period (although I am skeptical that the concept of representativeness, as used in statistics, could be any useful for humanist fields). Anyhow, this is a way for achieving very specific information about literature, or at least about this corpus.

For this purpose I have written a short script with the module Pandas of Python. You can find it in our Toolbox on GitHub (annotate > With the categorical values I have searched for the mode, and for the numerical values I have calculated the median (which is never worse than the mean, as far as I know).

So, the big question, what can I expect from a random novel of this period? Let’s start with things that we can be very confident about: it was written by a male author, the action takes place in the contemporary times, in Europe, and is realistic. 90% of the corpus agrees with that. But there are good odds about other aspects: it takes place in Spain, its protagonist is a young man with medium social level (neither starving, nor rich) with a sad ending, the text is written in third person, the history of literature doesn’t think that the text represents in any form the author’s life, and (congratulations!) is already in the public domain. All these aspects are true for more than 50% of the corpus.

From the numerical values we can know many other things: it was probably published in the the decade of the 1900, to be more specific in 1905. We have already said that its action takes place in contemporary times, but it reasonably lasts around a year. The text is about 65 000 words (around 250 pages) and presumably contains around 1500 paragraphs, from which around 40% contain dialogue. And it has only four verses, believably. We already know that the author was quite probably a man, but we could even perhaps guess that he lived 64 years, since he was born around 1866 and died around 1930. We even presume that he changed his ways of writing around 1890, so the random book comes from his second period. And finally we may also think that the author was quite important, because manuals of history of literature have actually dedicated a whole chapter to him.

And there are other aspects that are not present in the majority of the corpus, but that represent anyway the most common value. Not only the texts takes place in Spain: around a third of the action of the novels takes place in Madrid. We can also guess that the author wrote it in the late period of the modernism (with a big concept of the Generación del 98 being part of it) and this author probably also wrote collections of short stories. Actually there is 15% chance that the author was Pío Baroja since he was the most prolific author of this period (and it is also in the corpus). And, although it has only a 2% chances, the most common name of the protagonist of the text is Xavier de Bradomín.

Many of you will argue that it is impossible to read a novel written by Pío Baroja with a protagonist called Xavier de Bradomin: this name belongs to a fictional character of Valle-Inclán. And it is true, all this information doesn’t apply to the texts altogether; some parts contradict strongly others: how could possible lords have a medium social level? This script only seeks the central tendency of each category independently. There are many ways to get a sharper and more representative picture of the the literature of this period: better and more data (many of the information shows the bias of my corpus), not only using mode or median, having in consideration correlations between categories,etc.

But other aspects (realistic, contemporary, Europe, Spain, male author and protagonist…) are ideas very present in the history of the literature. With this playful post (I have really enjoyed discovering and writing about it!) I am only suggesting this way to scrutinise texts: this way of treating metadata provides statistical values that can summarize, tinge or reinforce different ideas about literature.

Gender, places and Academical level at the DHd2016

Some weeks ago we published some visualizations of the data of the attendants at the DHd 2016 that we take from the program of the conference. The organization of the conference liked what we did, and while speaking with them, I pointed out that I had the feeling that significantly fewer women were at the conference if compared to the Spanish DH Conference 2015 (in which the gender distribution of the speakers were more or less 50%). So the organization gave us more data about the participants, of course anonymized, and for that we are very thankful.

So, let’s start with the basic gender question. Was I supposing correctly, that there were more men than women?

Gender, places and Academical level at the DHd2016 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!

Verba Alpina: open data + elegant solutions

In the context of the Junge Forum Romanistik, there were workshops with a focus on digital tools in literary and linguistic studies organized by CLiGS together with the FJR and the AG Digitale Romanistik. In one of the workshops, Thomas Krefeld and Stephan Lücke presented the project Verba Alpina:

Screenshot from 2016-03-17 07:11:16This project studies dialectal data from the very multinational area of the Alps. The classical dialectal projects took a national approach that hides the linguistic processes that go across the border.  It impressed me for three reasons: two very simple and elegant solutions that they are applying in the project and how open the data and the tool are.
Verba Alpina: open data + elegant solutions weiterlesen

DHd 2016: countries, cities and institutions of the speakers

The CliGS group had the opportunity of being at the German Digital Humanities Conference  in Leipzig (DHd 2016). As we did with the  DH Spanish Conference of last year, we decided to take the data of the program to see in detail some general information of the people talking at the conference.

The data used in this post come all from the conftool of the conference. In that website is also the information about the pre-conference workshop and the EADH-Day.  It is important to have clear that this represent how visible are in the program countries, cities and institutions, and not about all the participants. We are only taking the data from the people that presented something (conference paper, poster, session…) and if someone took several roles during the conference, his information is also repeated.

I took the HTML, I cleaned it with scripts as best as I could; the tricky part was with this kind of things:

As we can see, the relationship between person and institution is not one to one. I checked the results of some of the most complicated cases and the scripts did a good job, but I wouldn’t dare to plunge my hand in the fire for this data 😉 If there are some errors and you want to give a try to clean the data in a better way, let us know with a comment! For the visualisation I have used the very user-friendly and intuitive tool RAW.

Lets start with the countries, in which country do the people in the program work? Results:

Well, not a huge surprise that Germany is the first country (428). Now the difference between Austria (37) and Switzerland (13) I didn’t expect. It is interesting to see how Italy and the Netherlands are well represented, specially if we compare it with other European countries, specially France, United Kingdom, Spain, Poland…

Lets go a step deeper in the data. And, now, a word of explanation: apparently the participants of some universities are more homogeneous when naming their institutions as other: while Universität Paderborn didn’t have any variant, there was a lot of variants in some Universities, example: Universität Göttingen, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, GA Universität Göttingen, Uni Göttingen… So I tried to curate the data the best way I could and searched for the locations of many institutions and I didn’t know:

Berlin, Leipzig, Göttingen, Würzburg, Wien, Darmstadt, Stuttgart… And from that we can go a step deeper and see the different institutions in each city. Because while some cities like Berlin, Wien or Göttingen contain a great number of institutions working in the Digital Humanities, other cities like Frankfurt or Würzburg are represented by a single institution.

So the data after institutions looks like this:

After the University of Leipzig, the one holding the conference, the best represented institutions in the program are the Universities from Würzbug, Darmstadt, HU-Berlin, Stuttgart, BBAW, ÖAW, NSUB-Göttingen, Köln…


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

Breaking News: The CLiGS textbox New Year release

We are very proud to announce our first public CLiGS text release on github, just in time for being a New Year release.

The “textbox” of our CLiGS-repository contains the following four collections of literary texts from Spain, France and Latin America, which are now online at your disposal:

The novels and novellas have been encoded according to the Guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative. Matadata tables and short descriptions of each collection ( are available as well.

You want to experiment with some new tools on Spanish or French texts? Or you are simply curious about our TEI-encoding? So don’t hesitate and check it out on github and zenodo . Praise, suggestions for improvement and (good :-)) reviews are always welcome!

One example of our TEI-encoding by José Calvo Tello.

Workshop “Advanced Methods in Stylometry”

The junior research group “Computational Literary Genre Stylistics” (CLiGS) is organizing a hands-on workshop on “Advanced Methods in Stylometry” which will take place at Würzburg University, Germany, on December 9-11. (All further information will be posted here; see bottom of this post for practical information.)

The workshop targets doctoral students in literary studies already familiar with computational text analysis and interested in using specific, advanced methods for their use-cases and research questions. The aims of the workshop are to help participants move beyond out-of-the-box functionality in stylo, either using advanced functionality in stylo or using specific Python packages. Participants are encouraged to bring their own datasets to the workshop.

The workshop will be taught by Maciej Eder (Paedagogical University, Kraków, Poland), Mike Kestemont (University of Antwerp, Belgium), and Jeremi Ochab (Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland), three experts in stylometry. It is being coordinated by Christof Schöch. The workshop will have three parts, adresssing the following issues:

  • The first part of the workshop will focus on designing and implementing workflows in R, aimed at performing large-scale custom stylometric experiments. To this end, a few low-level functions of the package ‘stylo’, as well as a number of generic R functions and routines will be introduced.
  • The second part will offer an introduction to the popular Machine Learning toolkit for Python: sklearn ( The workshop will focus on sklearn’s powerful suite of text processing algorithms. Using relevant examples from stylometry, it will be demonstrated how sklearn equips users with an arsenal of easily available (un)supervised machine learning routines.
  • The third part will be an introduction to models of complex networks as well as to the most prominent results on empirical networks. They will cover the most relevant graph characteristics, and will further expand to graph-based unsupervised clustering techniques, so-called community detection algorithms.

The workshop requires familiarity with the fundamental assumptions of computational text analysis including stylometry as well as solid competencies in using R and Python. If you are interested in joining us for the workshop, please send an application to until November 20, 2015, specifying why you would like to participate and how you have achieved your current level of competency in stylometry.

The workshop will start on Wednesday, December 9 at 9:30 am and end on Friday, December 11 at 1:00pm. Participation is free except for a small contribution for drinks and snacks during the breaks. The working language of the workshop will be English, but text collections used may be in the language of your choice. Participants are expected to bring their own laptop computers with the latest version of R (with stylo) as well as Python (version 3, with numpy, pandas, sklearn) installed.

The workshop is organized by the CLiGS group with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Research and Education (BMBF).

Practical information:

  • The workshop will take place at Würzburg University, Campus Hubland, Philosophisches Institut, Building 8, room 8.E.18. The pointer on this map points there.
  • The closest bus stop is “Philosophisches Institut”. From Würzburg Hauptbahnhof, buses 14, 114 and 214 take you there.

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

Visualizing information about HDH2015 & EADH Day

As I have already explained, we were at the HDH2015 & EADH Day at UNED in Madrid, last week. Besides some classic summary, when I was in the conference, I had the idea (inspired by Scott Weingart and his posts about DH conferences) about trying to condense the data about participants and visualize it in order to understand better some tendencies of the conference.

So I grabbed the program of the conference and I took the information (gender, institution and place) of the speakers. I took the information only from this program, so if the information was missing, I didn’t search for it somewhere else (as you can understand). I have also put together the information about HDH and eadhDay since there was a continuity of the programs. I haven’t compare the names of the people to discriminate if they have spoken once or more times; so, if someone have spoken several times, this is counted as different people.

Probably doing this I have done some mistakes; maybe you are reading this,  you work somewhere, you did speak at the conference but your place is not in the visualizations. For that I am sorry; write us a comment and I will try to amend the information.

Let’s start with gender, a topic that I have already mentioned and that was also discussed at the conference.

Screenshot from 2015-10-17 09:01:18From 229 people who talked, 126 were women and  103 were men. What I mentioned in my last post about women in leading positions in DH field, is also truth seeing the data of speakers.

Now, let’s see the distribution of participant by the University where they work:

Screenshot from 2015-10-17 09:06:41In the chart are not all the Universities, only those who sent at least 3 speakers (so we are able to read the names in the chart). The University with most participants was the UNED, which is not a surprise since they hosted the conference. But I have to say that the next Universities wouldn’t have been my first guesses. The great majority are Universities from Spain, but we also see other European and American centres (among them  Würzburg!).

Now let’s see about the speakers sort by cities where they work. And this is an important distinction: this are not the cities where the speakers come from, but where they work. I am an example of that: I studied in Madrid, but now I am working in Würzburg, Germany.

Screenshot from 2015-10-17 09:24:58Again, Madrid as first position is not a surprise, but it is that Palmas de Gran Canaria comes before Barcelona, for example. It is also interesting that the 5th position is hold by Paris and that we find three German Universities: Hamburg, Cologne and Würzburg.

Of course, if we visualize cities, we should also use maps! So I have used the Dariah Geo-browser and the results are:

Screenshot from 2015-10-17 09:38:06Screenshot from 2015-10-17 09:38:21

Let’s see Spain and Europe a little bit closer:

Screenshot from 2015-10-17 09:39:05 Screenshot from 2015-10-17 09:38:47

As we can see, the biggest circles are of course in Spain, some circles distributed in America and there are also a lot of circles in Western Europe.

So, what happen if we organize this information by country?

Screenshot from 2015-10-17 09:25:42As happened with UNED and Madrid, it is not surprising that Spain comes first. I would have expected United States, United Kingdom or France as second country, but actually is Germany, an interesting surprise that emphasize the tradition of strong relationships between Germany and Culture in Spanish.

It was also interesting to see that a great amount of people working abroad are actually Spanish that moved to other countries in the past. The HDH2015 & eadhDay were great opportunities to know each other and get in touch.

Suche in OpenEdition Search

Sie werden weitergeleitet zur OpenEdition Search