As Co-PI on this project, I have some role in every aspect of it: planning, grant seeking, oversight of graduate and undergraduate research assistants, refinement of the text analysis tools developed by my CS collaborators, analysis of data derived from text mining in GIS and Gephi, design of the public database for our results, and literary-historical analysis of the findings. These roles are harder to break out than in the Our Marathon entry, but I would like to highlight a few aspects of the project:
First, we have secured significant grant funding, including a $50,000 internal research grant from Northeastern University and a $59,805 Start-Up Grant from the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities. We are also part of a just awarded a (not yet publicly announced) $500,000.00 Mellon Grant which will support the development of a suite of tools for identifying patterns of duplicate texts in large-scale text archives.
Next, we have made significant progress toward developing a public database to share the clusters of reprinted texts we have identified, as well as extensive annotations of the reprinted texts and the newspapers from which they are drawn.
Several articles have been published or will soon be published from our early findings. Most recently, I have just had an article accepted with minor revisions for American Literary History. I am making these final revisions now, but would be happy to provide a draft of that (or any other listed) paper at the committee’s request.
- “Reprinting, Circulation, and the Network Author in Antebellum Newspapers,” Ryan Cordell, accepted with revisions at American Literary History
- “Viral Textuality in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Newspaper Exchanges,” Ryan Cordell, forthcoming in Virtual Victorians, ed. Veronica Rose Alfano and Andrew Stauffer, Palgrave MacMillan
- “Detecting and Evaluating Local Text Reuse in Social Networks,” Shaobin Xu, David A. Smith, Abigail Mullen, and Ryan Cordell; in the Proceedings of the Joint Workshop on Social Dynamics and Personal Attributes, Association for Computational Linguistics, 2014
- “Infectious Texts: Modeling Text Reuse in Nineteenth-Century Newspapers,” David A. Smith, Ryan Cordell, and Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, in the Proceedings of the Workshop on Big Humanities, IEEE Computer Society Press, 2013
We have also been invited to talk about this project around the country, and to a wide range of audiences. I’ve embedded a video of the most recent such talk, as part of the University of Pennsylvania’s Humanities Forum, below.
Finally, this project has generated significant public interest as well. In addition to speaking about the work at places such as Buzzfeed, we have received significant press coverage, including an interview with WNYC’s On the Media.
Selected Press Coverage
- “The Appeal of Facts that Blow Your Mind, from the 19th Century to Buzzfeed,” by Alexis C. Madrigal, Fusion, January 13, 2015
- “Going Viral in the Nineteenth Century,” by Rebecca Onion, Lapham’s Quarterly’s Roundtable blog, March 25, 2014
- “Viral Sensations of the 19th Century,” by Andrew Davies, Future Tense blog, ABC Radio (Australia), February 25, 2014
- “Going viral—the 19th century way,” interview by Anthony Funnell, Future Tense, ABC Radio (Australia), February 16, 2014
- “Life Advice for Young Men That Went Viral in the 1850s,” by Rebecca Onion, Slate’s The Vault blog, December 4, 2013
- “Going Viral, Antebellum Style,” interview by Bob Garfield, On the Media, WNYC, November 22, 2013
- “Here’s How Memes Went Viral—In the 1800s,” by Greg Miller, Wired’s MapLab blog, November 4, 2013
- “Top 10 Viral Hits of the Pre-Civil War Years,” by Arika Okrent, Mental_Floss, September 24, 2013