Speaker: Andrew Piper, Hao Xu and Eric D. Kolaczyk
Affiliation: McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 2M7, CANADA
Title: Modeling Narrative Revelation
Abstract: A core aspect of human storytelling is the element of narrative time. In this paper, we propose a model of narrative revelation using the information-theoretic concept of relative entropy, which has been used in a variety of settings to understand textual similarity, along with methods in time-series analysis to model the properties of revelation over narrative time. Given a beginning state of no knowledge about a story (beyond paratextual clues) and an end state of full knowledge about a story’s contents, what are the rhythms of dissemination through which we arrive at this final state? Using a dataset of over 2,700 books of contemporary English prose, we test for various time-dependent characteristics of narrative revelation against four stylistic categories of interest: audience age level, prestige, point-of-view, and fictionality.