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CESTA Seminar | J.D. Porter & Hannah Walser "Text Mining for Race and Ethnicity in American Fiction: 1789-1964"
What are the literary and linguistic foundations of our understanding of race? This project maps the frequency and semantic associations of racial and ethnic terms across approximately 18,000 U.S. novels in order to construct a detailed historical picture of the American racial imaginary. By identifying significant collocates of key racial and ethnic terms at particular historical moments, we are able to reconstruct the semantic system that gave racial concepts narrative meaning.
In this presentation, we will focus on two notable outcomes of our research. First, we show that collocate analysis enables us to assess the "stickiness" of any given ethnic identity: that is, how much did the American understanding of an ethnic category change over time? Second, we use our findings to gesture toward a quantitative analysis of linguistic patterns associated with stereotyping, and suggest directions for further research on the subject.
J.D. Porter is a Ph.D. Candidate in English at Stanford University. His dissertation explains the relationship between social fictions (ideas that once seemed natural and uncontroversial, but today are understood as constructions) and American modernist literary form. He examines what four social fictions—race, money, gender, and nation— can tell us about modernism, and what the explorations of the modernists can tell us about our interactions with these social forms today.
Hannah Walser earned her Ph.D. from the Department of English at Stanford in 2016 with a dissertation on nineteenth-century American fiction. Her research is located at the intersection of literature and cognitive science, with a particular focus on fiction's role in developing new and non-normative models of the mind. She currently works as the Assistant Director of the Literary Lab; this autumn, she will join the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow.
- Tuesday, May 9, 2017
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
- Bldg. 160, Rm. 433A Map
Lunch will be served.
- General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni/Friends
- 650-721-1385, email@example.com
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