Exploring the features of naturalist prose using LIWC in Nederlab

Floor Naber, P. Boot

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


Naturalism is one of the best-studied literary movements in (Dutch) literary history. Ton Anbeek formulated in 1982 eight characteristics of Dutch naturalist fiction. Working within the digital library environment Nederlab, we test these characteristics by applying LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count) to a corpus of naturalist fiction and a reference corpus of other fiction from the same period. We confirm some of Anbeek’s claims (naturalist novels are about nervous characters experiencing a process of disenchantment), fail to confirm some (we find no evidence for the role of determinism), and cannot test some others (e.g. the naturalist author despises bourgeois society). We do find some new ‘negative’ characteristics of Dutch Naturalism: subjects that occur significantly less in naturalist than in non-naturalist texts. Among these are words related to work, achievement and money. These findings intuitively fit with our idea of a naturalist character but require further study.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dutch Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • LIWC
  • literary movements
  • Naturalism
  • computational literary studies
  • Nederlab
  • text analysis


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