Presented by Allen Riddell
About 25,100 novels were published in the British Isles between 1837 and 1901. About 200 are still in print. Fewer than 500 feature with any regularity in teaching and research.
Literary historians and historians of publishing have long wanted a better understanding of the diversity of literary production during this period. To support this goal, we introduce a corpus of 100 novels which is a representative sample from the population. (A sample is representative if features of interest in the broader population can be estimated from the sample with a known degree of accuracy.) Gathering a representative sample from this population is challenging because there is no exhaustive catalog of novels. We therefore construct our sample in stages, first sampling from an extensive but biased bibliography and then correcting for the biases.
With this sample we are able to characterize the entire population of Victorian novels. We are able to estimate, for example, common lexical and syntactic features such as length in words, mean sentence length, and vocabulary richness. We can compare familiar "canonical" novels to the broader population. We also make preliminary estimates of biases in the survival rates of novels. Novels written by early Victorian women authors, for example, appear less likely to have been digitized.
Presentations are from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm EST in the Herman B Wells Library in Room E159 (Hazelbaker Hall in the Scholars' Commons).
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