Sep 01

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Session on using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count?

If there is interest, I would be happy to walk folks through an exciting new software tool, the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (abbreviated ‘LIWC’ and pronounced ‘Luke’)–whether as a workshop or a session. Its developer, James Pennebaker, has made some headlines with his fascinating recent book The Secret Life of Pronouns, which offers Humanities scholars lots of food for thought on how to use data from texts to understand mental health. If there is interest, I would probably plan on: 1 Introducing LIWC, 2 Describing its original purposes (for psychologists and clinicians) and 3 Describing its use for DHers.

The second part is pretty exciting since he’s found, for example, that people who use certain sorts of pronouns more frequently than others have a very significant probability of being clinically depressed. The third part would take up the most time and would mainly involve walking folks through my collaborative project to answer core questions in genre theory by compiling several million words in a database partitioned in three genres, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Mystery. In my opinion the most interesting thing about the DH use of LIWC is that it allows us to do much more than develop fun visualizations of word trees–it allows us to test hypotheses.

If there is interest for a workshop or session on this, it must not conflict with Scott K’s text mining workshop.

About the author


Inspired by interdisciplinary thinkers in the Scottish Enlightenment, my interests have led me to adopt new methods in studies in the Early Modern history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, and Early Confucianism, methods aimed at interpreting and explaining elements of the history of ideas with well-supported hypotheses from psychology and cognitive science.

Permanent link to this article: http://socal2012.thatcamp.org/2012/09/01/session-on-using-the-linguistic-inquiry-and-word-count/

1 comment

  1. Colleen Greene

    Hi Ryan,

    If this is a topic best done as a follow-up to Scott’s Text Mining workshop, you might want to propose this as a session for Saturday instead of a workshop on Friday, because Scott’s workshop will take place Friday afternoon — so we won’t have any workshops following that time slot.

    This would be perfect for a Saturday session. I’ve taken the liberty of adding it to the list of proposed Sessions: socal2012.thatcamp.org/schedule/session-proposals/


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