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Lecture series: Mike Kestemont

July 5, 2023 @ 4:00 pm5:00 pm


The wandering verse: the computational detection of micro-intertexts in medieval literature 

Intertextuality is a ubiquitous concept in literary studies, which – because of its notoriously open-ended nature – covers a variety of correspondences between texts. Signaling intertexts is an important editorial responsibility, because it can deepen one’s reading experience of a literary work. Text reuse detection has become a popular task in the computational humanities too, although its evaluation is complicated by the lack of exhaustively annotated datasets of intertexts. Historic scholarship on medieval epics provides us with a wealthy inventory of micro-intertexts between medieval works, although their status is still hotly debated. Some philological communities have been keen on identifying intertexts as authorial features, whereas others have stressed their conventional status, especially in the wake of the oral-formulaic theory. In this talk, I will present a study on Middle Dutch epic literature, as well as an extension of this work to contemporary Middle English literature, in particular the bookshop theory surrounding the famous Auchinleck manuscript. I will argue that the intricate web woven by computationally detected intertexts can invite radically innovative readings of medieval literature. 

Mike Kestemont

Mike Kestemont is a research professor in the department of Literature at the University of Antwerp (Belgium). He specializes in computational text analysis for the Digital Humanities. Whereas his work has a strong focus on historic literature, his previous research has covered a wide range of topics in literary history. Together with Folgert Karsdorp and Allen Riddell he has written a textbook on data science for the Humanities. Together with his Polish colleagues Maciej Eder and Jan Rybicki he is involved in the Computational Stylistics Group. Mike lives in Brussels (http://mikekestemont.github.io/), tweets in English (@Mike_Kestemont) and codes in Python (https://github.com/mikekestemont). 

This lecture is organized in conjunction with the Antwerp Summer University Summer School “Digital Humanities: Computer-assisted genetic editing, from handwritten text recognition to keystroke logging ”. Registration for the summer school itself has closed, but attending the speaker’s keynote lecture is free and open to all. Please register by sending an email to platformdh@uantwerpen.be.


July 5, 2023
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
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Rodestraat 14 (via ingang Lange Winkelstraat)
Antwerpen, 2000 Belgium
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