Andrew Goldstone

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I study and teach twentieth-century literature in English. My research interests include modernism and non-modernism in English and French, the sociology of literature, literary theory, the history of genre fiction, South Asian literature in English, and the digital humanities, especially computational text analysis. I also have a long-standing interest in digital systems for document preparation and typesetting, especially LaTeX.

My book, Fictions of Autonomy: Modernism from Wilde to de Man (2013), is published by Oxford University Press. For information about the book and ordering links, see my webpage for the book.

Signs@40

For the past year I have been working with the journal Signs on their fortieth anniversary project. Signs@40: Feminist Scholarship through Four Decades is now live. It features an interactive visualization of a topic model of the journal’s archive that I created in collaboration with Andy Mazzaschi, Susana Galán, Laura Lovin, and Lindsey Whitmore. The model is accompanied by commentary—both our own guide to exploration and commentaries by Signs editors and contributors past and future. The Signs group also created a series of thematic tables of contents for the journal and adapted a co-citation network visualization originally developed by Jonathan Goodwin. The whole provides many pathways for exploring the work of this central institution of feminist scholarship.

We will shortly make the source code available on github, where I’ll also add a few more technical notes on our modeling process and our visualization design. Here are some early thoughts about the site itself, now that it is at last whole and public:

At Penn This Week

This Thursday, I’ll be visiting Penn’s Digital Humanities Forum to discuss topic modeling and the sociology of literature. It’s a “Tools and Techniques” session, which means an informal discussion focused on method. I wonder if I will get in trouble for carrying my personal MALLET on Amtrak. Description:

This workshop introduces probabilistic topic modeling for humanists, focusing on applications in literary studies. Using my own work on the history of literary study as an example, I’ll give an informal introduction to the algorithm, survey the nuts-and-bolts technical choices involved in modeling, and discuss the challenges of interpreting the algorithm’s output. Strange and novel as this technique may seem, I’ll argue that it may be surprisingly well-suited to investigating some of literary studies’ central questions about the relation between literary history and social phenomena—and to rediscovering the methodological concerns the humanities share with the social sciences.

If you’re in Philly, it’s at noon in Penn Library, Seminar 627. Register by e-mailing .

Update, 10/16/14: slides

At Carnegie Mellon This Week

I’m giving a talk at the Literary and Cultural Studies Colloquium at Carnegie Mellon this Thursday, October 2:

Is it our job to be the best readers?

The emergence of quantitative methods for literary study allows us reassess the relationship between literary scholarship and the practice of expert critical reading. Though reading has the status of doxa in literary studies, it may obscure more than it clarifies about the problems posed by quantification. I exemplify the challenges in a quantitative analysis of scholarship itself, using a probabilistic topic model to explore discursive patterns in twenty-one thousand journal articles from the 1880s to the present. The model reveals, among other things, the surprisingly recent emergence of the theme of reading and the scope of literary studies’ turn toward the terrain of the social sciences since the 1970s. It is, in fact, the social sciences that might help us toward methodological alternatives to “reading” that allow us to make sense of the aggregate patterns in literary practice revealed by techniques like topic modeling.

If you’re in Pittsburgh: it’s at 4:30 p.m. in 255B Baker Hall.

Spring 2015 Courses

I’ve updated the Teaching page with descriptions for my Spring 2015 courses. I’m always glad to hear from interested students at my Rutgers e-mail.

In the undergraduate program, I’m teaching Principles of Literary Study: Prose, one of the English major requirements. There’s nothing quite like having the chance to be the pied piper introduce the great intellectual pleasures of my subject. (This was formerly “Principles of Literary Study: Fiction,” and I really teach the course as a principled introduction to fictional narrative. A course goal: students will be able to explain the distinction between prose, fiction, and arrative.) This syllabus is forthcoming.

My graduate course is new, and very experimental: Literary Data: Some Approaches. It’s about quantification and data in literary studies, an issue current discussed in and around “DH” but really part of the long dance of literary studies with the other human sciences. We’re going to learn enough programming (in R) to start in on analyzing data. I hold no particular brief for “coding” or “making,” but I think this is the best route into the quantitative at the moment, as well as an important way to concretize the theoretical and methodological debate about literary data.

Fun with Dates

The website for Ted Underwood’s and my Quiet Transformations of Literary Studies has just been updated. Though this doesn’t add much in the way of new functionality (just a slightly modified bibliography display), every single chronological datum on the site has been changed to correct an error. Importantly, this means:

  1. Every time-series chart is slightly different (more explanation below).
  2. These charts now match the visualizations in our preprint article, which were not subject to this error.
  3. Article bibliographic information more closely matches JSTOR’s.

In not entirely unrelated news, I learned more about date encoding in Javascript and d3.js. After the jump, an explanation of the bug.