to narrative expression (storytelling) in
In rural Denmark in the 19th century,
stories would reflect the trouble farmers had with everything from ghosts
to house elves. The trouble with house
elves begins with their unpredictable
nature, which, for folklorists, makes
them difficult to track through the landscape of the story corpus. This exploration of the contours of computational
folkloristics and our description of preliminary experiments in multimodal
network classification for folklore corpora offer not only the possibility of being able to track house elves but promising directions for future work.
One troubling aspect of working
with a large amount of humanities
data is that scholars often cannot see
the forest for the trees, to borrow a
folk expression. Moretti spoke convincingly of distant reading, a corrective to the long-standing tradition in
the humanities of very close reading. 25
Distant reading allows scholars to “see
the forest,” discovering patterns that
might otherwise be obscured by too
close attention to the detail of a text or
performance; the same can be said of
the methods outlined here.
Fortunately, with these computational methods, researchers are able
to combine distant reading with close
reading. In so doing, they can interrogate the relationship between folk
expressive culture and the individuals
who created and perpetuated these expressions in time and place. Computational folkloristics offers an opportunity to read and interpret culture in a
more holistic fashion than ever before.
We wish to thank Nischal Devanur for
help in processing the data. We also
thank colleagues at the Institute for
Pure and Applied Mathematics (UCLA),
participants in Rice University’s “
Technology, Cognition, and Culture” lecture series, and Indiana University’s
“Networks and Complex Systems”
symposium for comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this work.
The research was funded by an American Council of Learned Societies Digital Innovation Fellowship and National
Science Foundation grant IIS-0970179.
Many of the ideas were developed at the
National Endowment for the Humanities Institute for Advanced Topics in
Digital Humanities through “Networks
and Network Analysis for the Humanities” NEH grant HT5001609. The work
of James Abello is partially supported
by the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science
(DIMACS), Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, “Special Focus on Algorithmic Foundations of the Internet” NSF
grant #CNS-0721113, and mgvis.com
( http://mgvis.com), New Jersey.
1. abello, J. hierarchical graph maps. Computers &
Graphics 28, 3 (June 2004), 345–359.
2. abello, J., van ham, F. and Krishnan, n. asK-graphview: a large-scale graph visualization system.
IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer
Graphics 12, 5 (sept./oct. 2006), 669–676.
3. bascom, W.r. The Forms of Folklore: Prose Narratives.
university of California, berkeley, 1965.
4. bilgic, M., licamele, l., getoor, l., and shneiderman,
b. d-dupe: an interactive tool for entity resolution
in social networks. in Proceedings of the IEEE
Symposium on Visual Analytics Science and
Technology (baltimore, oct. 31–nov. 2). ieee,
Piscatway, nJ, 2006, 43–50.
5. bjarnadóttir, K. um beygingarlýsingu íslensks
nútímamáls, 2009; http://www.lexis.hi.is/kristinb/
6. blei, d.M., ng, a.y., and Jordan, M.i. latent dirichlet
allocation. Journal of Machine Learning Research 3
(Jan. 2003), 993–1022.
7. Carley, K., Columbus, d., bigrigg, M., and Kunkel,
F. AutoMap User’s Guide 2010. technical report.
institute for software research, school of Computer
science, Carnegie Mellon university, Pittsburgh, Pa,
8. Child, F. J. and Kittredge, g.l. The English and Scottish
Popular Ballads. houghton Mifflin Company, boston
and new york, 1882.
9. Choe, i.-h. A type index of Korean folktales. Myong Ji
university Publishing, seoul, 1979.
10. Christiansen, r.t. The Migratory Legends.
suomalainen tiedeakatemia, helsinki, 1992.
11. deerwester, s., dumais, s.t., Furnas, g. W., landauer,
t.K., and harshman, r. indexing by latent semantic
analysis. Journal of the American Society for
Information Science 41, 6 (sept. 1990), 391–407.
12. dundes, a. From etic to emic units in the structural
study of folktales. Journal of American Folklore 75,
296 (apr.–June 1962), 95–105.
13. el-shamy, h. M. Folk Traditions of the Arab World: A
Guide to Motif Classification. indiana university Press,
bloomington, in, 1995.
14. elson, d.K. and McKeown, K.r. a tool for deep
semantic encoding of narrative texts. in Proceedings
of the ACL-IJCNLP 2009 Soft ware Demonstrations
Joint Conference of the 47th Annual Meeting of the
Association for Computational Linguistics and Fourth
International Joint Conference on Natural Language
Processing of the AFNLP (suntec, singapore, aug.
3). association for Computational linguistics,
stroudsburg, Pa, 2009, 9–12.
15. eskeröd, a. Årets äring. Etnologiska studier i skördens
och julens tro och sed. nordiska Museets handlingar
26. håkan ohlssons boktryckeri, lund, sweden, 1947.
16. Finlayson, M.a. deriving narrative morphologies via
analogical story merging. in New Frontiers in Analogy
Research: Proceedings of the Second International
Conference on Analogy, d. gentner, K. holyoak, and
b. Kokinov, eds. (sofia, bulgaria, July 24–27). new
bulgarian university Press, sofia, 2009, 127–136.
17. Finlayson, M.a. Collecting semantics in the wild:
the story Workbench. in Proceedings of the AAAI
Fall Symposium on Naturally Inspired Artificial
Intelligence (arlington, va, nov. 7–9). aaai Press,
Menlo Park, Ca, 2008, 46–53.
18. Fogaras, d. and rácz, b. scaling link-based similarity
search. in Proceedings of the 14th International
Conference on the World Wide Web (Chiba, Japan, May
10–14). aCM Press, new york, 2005, 641–650.
James Abello ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is research
professor in the Center for discrete Mathematics and
theoretical Computer science of rutgers university,
Peter M. Broadwell ( email@example.com)
is a Council on library and information resources
postdoctoral fellow in the digital initiatives department
of the Charles e. young research library at the university
of California, los angeles.
Timothy R. Tangherlini ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is
a professor of folklore in the scandinavian section and
the department of asian languages and Cultures at the
university of California, los angeles and a fellow of the
american Folklore society.