Matthew Wilkens is Ruth and Paul Idzik Associate Professor in Digital Scholarship and Associate Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. He is the director of the Textual Geographies project, a co-investigator of the Textmining the Novel project, a founding editorial board member of the Journal of Cultural Analytics, and the author of Revolution: The Event in Postwar Fiction.

Talk: Books as Data: On Computation and Cultural Analysis

Abstract: The central problem of contemporary literary and cultural studies is the problem of abundance. There are, in short, far more books than critics can read. This fact, combined with a field-wide turn toward culture and away from aesthetics, has spurred the adoption of computational methods in the humanities. But what can we do when we treat books as data? This talk describes the current state of the digital humanities, presents recent computational results on literary genres, textual geography, and global economics in hundreds of thousands of books, and reflects on the challenges of archival silence in digital libraries.