From high heels to weed attics: a syntactic investigation of chick lit and literature

K.J. Jautze, C.W. Koolen, Andreas van Cranenburgh, H.A. de Jong

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Stylometric analysis of prose is typically limited to classification tasks such as authorship attribution. Since the models used are typically black boxes, they give little insight into the stylistic diff erences they detect. In this paper, we characterize two prose genres syntactically: chick lit (humorous novels on the challenges of being a modern-day urban female) and high literature. First, we develop a top-down computational method based on existing literary-linguistic theory. Using an o -the-shelf parser we obtain syntactic structures for a Dutch corpus of novels and measure the distribution of sentence types in chick-lit and literary novels. The results show that literature contains more complex (subordinating) sentences than chick lit. Secondly, a bottom-up analysis is made of specific morphological and syntactic features in both genres, based on the parser’s output. This shows that the two genres can be distinguished along certain features. Our results indicate that detailed insight into stylistic di fferences can be obtained by combining computational linguistic analysis with literary theory.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Workshop on Computational Linguistics for Literature
Place of PublicationAtlanta, GA
PublisherAssociation for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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    Jautze, K. J., 2014

    Research output: Non-textual formWebsiteScientific

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