|dc.description.abstract||In this project, I use computational text analysis tools to investigate whether certain words are markers of Victorian sentimentality. Beyond the excitement of discovering the unexpected within sentimental texts, my larger aim is to create a work that functions as a bridge between a few seemingly paradoxical ideas. Most obviously, I am juxtaposing the study of emotion with a cold, unfeeling machine. The sentimental text, by nature, resists the distance that is necessary for critical evaluation, and thus the objectivity of the computer is ideal for uncovering and understanding the mechanics of sentimentality. Sentimentality carries particular connotations: it is inextricably linked to formulaic language, conventionalism and cliché. If sentimentality really is formulaic writing, an analysis of vocabulary in sentimental texts should reveal this formula. This makes sentimentality an ideal test-bed to explore the effectiveness of techniques for automated classification and other forms of textual analysis.
I also employ new practices of reading in which the larger picture, painted by text analysis and word cloud visualizations, brings to the surface trends that then become the focus for how I interpret certain scenes, characters, and authors. I illustrate how twenty-first century modes of literary criticism enhance, rather than replace, the ways we read and study literature. Finally, this project represents my somewhat split identity as a nineteenth-century scholar who specializes in digital humanities: a Victorianist who also builds and uses humanities computing tools.||