- Timeline of Syuzhet discussion
February 2: Matthew Jockers announces Syuzhet with a post on his blog.
February 25: Jockers posts The Rest of the Story explaining the way Syuzhet was used to identify "six, or possibly seven, archetypal plot shapes."
March 2: Annie Swafford publishes a critique, Problems with the Syuzhet Package.
March 4: Jockers responds with Some Thoughts on Annie's Thoughts… about Syzuhet.
March 7: Swafford counters with a riposte, Continuing the Syuzhet Discussion.
March 9: Swafford makes code for her graphs public on Github.
Jockers responds to Swafford's March 7 critique, Is that Your Syuzhet Ringing? March 10: Swafford appends a few comments to her March 7 critique.
- “Distant reading,” the use of computers to discern patterns in enormous numbers of texts, has been lampooned inside and outside of academia. But digital humanists continue to forge experiments to limn huge bodies of texts as data and to publish their results.
- In February 2015, Matthew Jockers, Associate Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and Director of the Nebraska Literary Lab, announced Syuzhet, his new software package for the sentiment analysis of literary texts. Jockers incorporated a mathematical tool used by physicists (the Fourier transform) into Syuzhet to compare the "plot shapes" of 40,000 novels and found six common, perhaps archetypal, plot shapes. The appearance of Syuzhet and Jockers' claim to have discovered that novels have a small, finite number of plots was noted in the academic community, among data scientists and commercial practitioners of sentiment analysis, and in the news media. In March, Annie Swafford, Assistant Professor for Interdisciplinary and Digital Teaching and Scholarship at the State University of New York, New Paltz, published a critique of the Syuzhet package. Swafford's critique touched off a far-ranging discussion across academic disciplines of the value of text mining tools for literary research. This Storify, and the later one in the series, attempts to gather representative elements from the discussion.
- (Selected tweets in roughly chronological order; some grouped for clarity. This Storify does not incorporate new elements after March 24, 2015. See this link for the next Storify in the series.)
- Motherboard publishes a piece on Jockers finding six basic book plots.
- The Paris Review publishes an article about turning the plots of novels into data points.
- Jockers' blog post about Syuzhet is selected to be an Editors' Choice on Digital Humanities Now.
- Jonathan Goodwin, Associate Professor of English at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, installs the Syuzhet Package and encounters some unexpected results.
- Annie Swafford, Assistant Professor for Interdisciplinary and Digital Teaching and Scholarship at the State University of New York, New Paltz, tries to troubleshoot the issue on Twitter.
- Swafford offers to look into the issue offline.