Newly developed in fall 2012, the “Imaginary Interactions” project is the result of a collaboration between Dr. Andrew Piper of the McGill German Department and Dr. Derek Ruths of the McGill Department of Computer Science. Using a combination of text mining and network analysis techniques, the investigators hope to create a large scale view of literary sociability and its characteristics across individual works, history and genre.
Currently in the data collection stage, the project considers the creation and “shape” of social networks in fictional writing. How are these networks created? Do they change over time? Do they reflect across a genre? Initial data collection has been performed using smaller short stories, however during the winter 2013 semester, Dr. Piper and Dr. Ruths hope to be able to expand the data set to include novels. Additionally, Dr. Piper noted that he hopes to widen the historical range of the data set; effectively creating a snapshot view of social interactions from the Middle Ages to present contemporary literature.