Ted Underwood

Photo of Ted Underwood


PhD, English, Cornell University

307 LIS
(217) 244-4617
tunder [at] illinois.edu

Office Hours

Currently on sabbatical
Curriculum Vitae   

Research Focus

Statistical and computational modeling of humanistic evidence; machine learning and text mining; book history; digital libraries; sociology of literature; computational social science; digital humanities.

Other Professional Appointments

Professor, English
2015-2016 Associate, Center for Advanced Study


Ted Underwood is a professor in the School of Information Sciences and also holds an appointment with the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. After writing two books that describe eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature using familiar critical methods, he turned to new opportunities created by large digital libraries. Since that time, his research has explored literary patterns that become visible across long timelines, when we consider hundreds or thousands of books at once. He recently used machine learning, for instance, to trace the consolidation of detective fiction and science fiction as distinct genres, and to describe the shifting assumptions about gender revealed in literary characterization from 1780 to the present.

Current Project

Underwood's book manuscript, The Horizon of Literary History, which is under advance contract at University of Chicago Press, argues that computational methods are changing literary history by revealing long, century-spanning arcs of change that were invisible at our ordinary scale of reading.

Research Projects

Text Mining the Novel: Establishing the Foundations of a New Discipline

This HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC) project seeks to produce the first large-scale cross-cultural study of the novel according to quantitative methods. Ever since its putative rise in the eighteenth century, the novel has emerged as a central means of expressing what it means to be modern. And yet despite this cultural significance, we still lack a comprehensive study of the novel’s place within society that accounts for the vast quantity of novels produced since the eighteenth century,...

Related Topics

Data Analytics, Digital Humanities, Digital Libraries