By Caoimhe Killeen
NUI Galway’s Moore Institute has collaborated with 12 other European institutions that aim to aid digital approaches to the study of literature.
Computational Literary Studies Infrastructure (CLS INFRA) is a four-year partnership that will focus on building a shared resource of high-quality data, tools and knowledge needed for literary studies using artificial intelligence and other computational methods.
The project is being supported with €5 million funding from the European Commission.
Dr Justin Tonra, Lecturer in English at NUI Galway, whose work in the
project will focus on bridging the gap between computational and traditional literary studies, has stated the project will shed light on various topics that are represented in European culture.
“When studying literature, we often focus on a small number of books by a small number of authors,” stated Dr Tonra.
“With the aid of computers, we can ‘read’ literature at a scale that opens windows onto topics like gender, language and colonialism, and how they are represented in our shared and varied European cultural heritage.”
CLS INFRA is also intended to add to rapidly evolving computational literary studies and provide a heavily data-focused approach to literature.
It will aid scholars to detect patterns which show what literary genres were prevalent at certain times, and whether the movement of literary style can be mapped across time and space.
CLS INFRA will also identify and map specific requirements of researchers who wish to study literature using technology and AI.
A further aim of the project is to open Computational Literary Studies to more researchers, enabling investigation into Europe’s multi-lingual and interconnected literary heritage and cultural diversity.
Support services and training will be provided to researchers who are new to the use of AI for literary study, with support also provided for independent scholars and scholars from under-represented regions and languages.
Institutions partnering with the Moore Institute for the project include the Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities in Germany, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Netherlands and the Institute of Polish Language at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland.
Dr Maciej Eder, Director of the Institute of Polish Language at the Polish Academy of Sciences and Principal Investigator of CLS INFRA, said: “This is a very exciting project which promises to make great advances in how we use computers to study literature.
“One of the great challenges to Computational Literary Studies is that the landscape of digital literary sources is very fragmented, as scholars and readers struggle to find texts that are made accessible and reusable in standardised ways. CLS INFRA will address this deficit in a way that will allow the field to flourish.”
Dr Tonra added: “The partnership of 13 European institutes will also foster systematic and meaningful cooperation across national borders and linguistic boundaries, as well as disciplines of study.
“The emergence of information and communications technologies has given us an unprecedented opportunity to share, compare and understand this legacy across national borders and linguistic boundaries.”