The Language Archive -
The Weight of the Author. Quantitative authorship attribution in medieval Dutch literature
Our cultural heritage in the Low Countries is rich in cases of unresolved authorship. Medieval Dutch literature, for instance, knows many famous yet anonymous works, such as "Karel ende Elegast" or "Beatrijs". Being able to attribute such works to known authors would greatly enhance our understanding of this literature. Style-based authorship attribution has recently been a popular topic in stylometry -- the quantitatve study of (literary) writing style. The principal idea in this research field is that each author has a unique writing style which can be detected in anonymous texts using quantitative measurements of specific stylistic features. With these techniques, it might be possible to shed new light on the signature of many anonymous medieval texts. In this talk I will present my PhD research into computational authorship attribution in Middle Dutch literature. I will discuss a number of representative case studies where stylometric techniques have led to innovative research results. I will argue that even with modest quantitative and digital tools, huge advances can be made in the field of the Humanities.
Mike Kestemont is a PHD student at the University of Antwerp, where he is affiliated with the CLiPS language technology group and the medieval group of the Institute for the Study of Literature in the Netherlands (ISLN). His research focuses on the (computational) analysis of historical literature in the field of traditional stylistics in semi-literate cultures (e.g. Middle Dutch epic poetry).
- Where and when:
10:30-11:30 May 9, 2012MPI Nijmegen, room 163