What is it about?

Using computers to crunch large quantities of text to analyse author style (computational stylistics, or stylometry) has become a popular area of research in the digital humanities. However, the easy availability of some of the algorithms have led to them being misapplied. This article examines a recent claim that Marlowe didn't write most of the plays attributed him, based on a method called 'Delta'.

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Why is it important?

Humanities scholars need a better understanding of computational stylometric methods, how they really work, and how to apply them, before using them to make claims about authorship attribution. This is particularly true in the attribution of Early Modern Plays.


No author's style can be determined by choosing their earlies style as 'typical'. An author's style changes over time. Marlowe's style cannot be determined by Tamburlaine any more than my own style can be determined by the poems I wrote when I was twenty.

Dr Ros Barber
Goldsmiths, University of London

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This page is a summary of: Marlowe and overreaching: A misuse of stylometry, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, August 2018, Oxford University Press (OUP),
DOI: 10.1093/llc/fqy040.
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