Professor Ted Underwood, PhD students Wenyi Shang and Yuerong Hu, MS/IM students Anirudh Sharma and Shubhangi Singhal, and English PhD student Peizhen Wu will present their research at the Workshop on Computational Humanities Research (CHR2020), which will be held virtually from November 18-20. The purpose of the workshop is to "foster the formation of a community of humanities scholars that rely on a wide range of computational approaches" and to serve as a stepping stone toward the creation of a research-oriented, open-access computational humanities journal.
Underwood and the students will present their paper, "The Rise and Fall of Genre Differentiation in English-Language Fiction," in which they examine the strength of textual differentiation between genres of fiction in a collection of English-language books dating from 1860 to 2009.
"We know that new genres can emerge over time," said Underwood. "The categories we call 'mystery' and 'science fiction' weren't clearly defined in 1850, but by 1950 they described sharply distinct kinds of writing. In this paper, we ask whether the process can also go in the other direction. Can existing genres blur and melt together? We found this was true not only for specific genres, but for the genre system as a whole. The books grouped in a particular category in the twenty-first century tend to be less different from other categories than they were in the middle of the twentieth century. To check that this wasn't just an accident of library classification, we also tested the hypothesis with genre categories inferred from book reviews and found the same thing."
Underwood is a professor in the iSchool and also holds an appointment with the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. His research interests include statistical and computational modeling of humanistic evidence, machine learning and text mining, book history, digital libraries, sociology of literature, computational social science, and digital humanities. Underwood earned his PhD in English from Cornell University.