About this site­

A guide to digital literary studies

This site - made public in May 2021 - offers a collection of digital approaches, resources and ideas for the 33 chapters of the book Literature: An Introduction to Theory and Analysis (2017). For each chapter, we suggest some digital applications and ideas for exploring and analyzing the topic from a computational point of view.

Having gathered a variety of existing resources and analysis tools, we encourage you to explore the digital realm of literary studies and widen your perspective on literature.


As the field of digital literary studies, this site is continuously developing and being edited. Please contact us on tpeura@cc.au.dk with your suggestions and questions!

Authors and editors

This site is a result of collaboration between several digital humanities and literary studies researchers. Main editor: Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, Aarhus University. The project is funded by Digital Arts Initiative (Aarhus University) and Network for Digital Literary Studies (University of Southern Denmark).

The majority of Introductions to the chapters are written by Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, and the Applications and Resources are mainly written and edited by Emma Risgaard Olsen and Telma Peura. Additional content is provided by Mads Nansen Paulsen.

We would like to thank the following contributors:

Copyright owners and origins for all illustrations featured on the website:

  • Literature: Lijffijt, Jefrey, and Terttu Nevalainen. “A Simple Model for Recognizing Core Genres in the BNC.” Big and Rich Data in English Corpus Linguistics : Methods and Explorations. Ed. Turo Hiltunen, Joe McVeigh, & Tanja Säily. Vol. 19. University of Helsinki, VARIENG eSeries, 2017. https://varieng.helsinki.fi/series/volumes/19/lijffijt_nevalainen/ 
  • Interpretation: Wordcloud of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Generated by Mads Rosendahl Thomsen musing WordItOut. 
  • Genre: Wilkens, M. (2016). Genre, Computation, and the Varieties of Twentieth-Century U.S. Fiction. Journal of Cultural Analytics, p. 18, fig. 5. doi.org/10.22148/16.009
  • Narrative: McLure, D. (2017). Distributions of words across narrative time in 27,266 novels. Stanford Literary Lab. https://litlab.stanford.edu/distributions-of-words-27k-novels/ 
  • Character: Moretti, F. “Operationalizing”: or, the function of measurement in modern literary theory“, Stanford Literary Lab Pamphlet 6, December 2013. litlab.stanford.edu/LiteraryLabPamphlet6.pdf
  • The Narrator: Gemma, Marissa, Frédéric Glorieux, and Jean-Gabriel Ganascia. Operationalizing the Colloquial Style: Repetition in 19th-Century American Fiction. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities 32.2 (2017): 312-35. doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqv066 
  • Style: Heuser, R. (2020). Abstraction: A Literary History. https://ryanheuser.org/talks/kingscollege2020/
  • Sensation: Brand, C. O., Acerbi, A., & Mesoudi, A. (2019). Cultural evolution of emotional expression in 50 years of song lyrics. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 1, 3, figure 1. doi.org/10.1017/ehs.2019.11
  • Rhythm: Heuser, R., Borgeson, S., Anttila, A., & Kiparsky, P. The Rise and Fall of Antimetricality. Bridging Gaps, Creating Links: The Qualitative-Quantitative Interface in the Study of Literature. Padua, Italy. 2018. https://web.stanford.edu/~kiparsky/Papers/Antimetricality-Draft-2018-04-20.pdf
  • Tropes: Demmen et. al (2015). A computer-assisted study of the use of Violence metaphors for cancer and end of life by patients, family carers and health professionals. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 20(2), 215, figure 1. https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.20.2.03dem
  • Intertext: Büchler, M. & Miyagawa, So (2016). Computational Analysis on Text Re-use of Shenoute and Besa. 11th International Congress of Coptic Studies. July, 28. http://www.etrap.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/claremont27Aug2016.pdf
  • Author: Google Books Ngram Viewer used to compare the mentioning of Jane Austen and William Wordsworth in a corpus of books from 1800 - 2020. Created by website owner using https://books.google.com/ngrams  
  • Reader: Goodreads. (October 15th, 2020). Goodreads Top 100 - Highest Rated Books on Goodreads with at least 10,000 Ratings. GoodReads. Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/153860.Goodreads_Top_100_Highest_Rated_Books_on_Goodreads_with_at_least_10_000_Ratings. Screenshot by author. 
  • History: Underwood, T. (2015). Why Literary Periods Mattered: Historical Contrast and the Prestige of English Studies (1st ed., p. 167). Stanford University Press. doi.org/10.1515/9780804788441
  • Ethics: A map of South Hornsey, created as a part of Charles Brooth's "Inquiry into Life and Labour in London" (1886-1903). Photograph: Charles Booth Archive, courtesy of London School of Economics. https://booth.lse.ac.uk/about  
  • Politics: Nicole Coleman, Stanford University (2010). Mapping the Republic of Letters. Voltaire and the Enlightenment. republicofletters.stanford.edu/casestudies/voltaire.html
  • Gender: Underwood, T., Bamman, D., & Lee, S. (2018). The Transformation of Gender in English-Language Fiction. Journal of Cultural Analytics. https://doi.org/10.22148/16.019
  • Ethnicity:  Sinykin, Daniel, Richard Jean So, and Jessica Young. "Economics, Race, and the Postwar Us Novel: A Quantitative Literary History." American Literary History 31.4 (2019, p. 798 (fig. 7). 
  • Desire: A bar plot from Voyant Tools showing the relative frequencies of ‘mother’ and ‘father’ in novels by Jane Austen. Retrieved January 12, 2021, from http://voyant-tools.org. Screenshot by author. 
  • Nature: A visualization of the literary landscape from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Generated with: Swanstrom, L. & Svatos, S. A Field Guide to Artificial Nature. http://literaryfieldguide.com 
  • Place: Wilkens, M. 2021. Map of a corpus of American and British novels by their use of Nordic locations. 
  • Things: Tenen, Dennis Yi. "Toward a Computational Archaeology of Fictional Space." New Literary History 49.1 (2018): p. 141. 
  • Mobility: IbsenStage (2018). https://ibsenstage.hf.uio.no/pages/browse/map/country
  • Memory: Birthplaces of holocaust survivors. From: Visual Search, Yale University DHLAB. dhlab.yale.edu/projects/visual-search/
  • Archive: Gemma et. al., “Canon/Archive. Large-scale Dynamics in the Literary Field”, Stanford Literary Lab Pamphlet 11, January 2016. litlab.stanford.edu/LiteraryLabPamphlet11.pdf
  • Books: Ben Terrett. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
  • Remediation: Frankenstein, results from a Google Image search made by website owner.  
  • Art: King, L. & Leonard, P., Robots Reading Vogue, Yale University DHLabhttp://lab.softwarestudies.com/p/imageplot.html.
  • Performance: MacArthur, Marit J., Georgia Zellou, and Lee M. Miller. "Beyond Poet Voice: Sampling the (Non-) Performance Styles of 100 American Poets.", fig. 13. Journal of Cultural Analytics (2018).
  • Translation: The original opening paragraph from Jorge Luis Borges’ “El jardin de senderos que se bifurcan” (Ficciones, 1944), a translation by DeepL, and a human translation by Andrew Hurley.
  • Creative Writing: GPT-3 Creative Fiction: William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, reimagined and rewritten by an artificial intelligence.  Branwen, G. (2020, June 19), Gwern.Net. www.gwern.net/GPT-3
  • Critical writing: Goldstone, Andrew, and Ted Underwood. "The Quiet Transformations of Literary Studies: What Thirteen Thousand Scholars Could Tell Us". New Literary History 45.3 (2014): 359-84, fig. 6. 
  • Quality: Algee-Hewitt, M., Allison, S., Gemma, M. et al. (2016). Canon/Archive. Large-scale Dynamics in the Literary Field. Stanford Literary Lab Pamphlet 11, f. 3.2. January 2016.