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Stanford Researchers Map Fear and Happiness in Historic London


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An illustration of the fictional stability of London in the late 19th century.

Researchers at Stanford University's Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis and Literary Lab have mapped out how readers of 18th- and 19th-century British novels felt emotionally about London.

Credit: Stanford University Literary Lab, Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis

Researchers at Stanford University's Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis and Literary Lab have mapped out how readers of 18th- and 19th-century British novels felt emotionally about London.

They used a technique that labels word sequences in a text to plot literary references on the map, and found references to specific locations often lacked emotion.

The Literary Lab crowdsourced readings for freelancers on Amazon's Mechanical Turk platform, asking them to identify fear or happiness on about 15,000 passages from novels of the period set in London.

The researchers found the imagined London differed significantly from the historical London, with emotions evoked by the novels not always corresponding with the sites named in the research.

The researchers note this imaginary geography remained very consistent during a population explosion between 1700 and 1900, so locations used by early U.K. authors largely resembled those employed by novelists during the next two centuries.

From Stanford News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2017 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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