Mark Algee-Hewitt: Read, Write, Respond: Data, Affect and Narrative

October 13, 2015 |
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Monroe 130

Read, Write, Respond: Data, Affect, and Narrative:

Chief among the criticisms of the quantitative study of literary texts is that the approach is rigidly formalistic: data on word frequencies leave little room for other kinds of critical interventions. How, for example, can information about words, syntax or grammar reveal textual features that trigger particular affective responses in different readers? In this talk I explore the phenomenon of suspense, an aesthetic experience that has resisted literary critical or even psychological explanation. By interleaving multiple kinds of data, I show that the emerging methods of the Digital Humanities are uniquely suited to exploring the boundaries between text and affect, reader and researcher, and formal structure and aesthetic experience. In this project, I seek to open up a new area of study in our field, one that combines the richly formalistic approach of quantitative analysis with a deeper understanding of the text as a uniquely affective communicative medium.


Mark Algee-Hewitt is Assistant Pro-fessor in the department of English at Stanford University and the Co-Director of the Literary Lab. His work focuses on the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in England and Germany and seeks to combine literary criticism with digital and quantitative analyses of literary texts. At the Literary Lab, Mark leads projects on suspense literature, the relationship between titles and texts in the long eighteenth century, and gender performance in the dialogue of novels written during the Romantic period.

For further information contact Paul Humphreys ( or Raf Alvarado ( )

Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Data and Knowledge and the Data Sciences Institute