Complexity Explorer Santa Few Institute

Foundations & Applications of Humanities Analytics (Spring 2023)

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This course is no longer in session.

4.1 Analyzing "Excellence" in the Humanities » Test Your Knowledge: Explanations

Q1. How is Rebecca Spang's book Stuff and Money in the French Revolution described by the blurbs?

(A) brilliant
(B) rewarding
(C) difficult

(D) A and B, but not C
(E) B and C, but not A
(F) A and C, but not B 

Correct Answer: (D)  The rhetoric of praise has many patterns, but not all appear at once. "Difficult" (C) is something we see in the blurbs for Irad Kimhi's Thinking and Being but not in the blurbs for Stuff and Money in the French Revolution.

Q2. What is an example of a question we might ask about academic blurbs in which we would be looking for a "signal" (e.g. "finding X predicts Y")?

(A) How do particular word choices correlate with the book's press (ie. positive or negative reviews)? 
(B) How do particular word choices correlate with each other?
(C) How do particular word choices change in time?

(D) A and B, but not C
(E) B and C, but not A
(F) A and C, but not B 

Correct Answer: (D)  Answer (A) most closely matches the style of investigation in the Old Bailey paper, in which we looked at how word choices in testimony predicted – "signaled" – indictment; but (B) is an equally interesting investigation, where the signals are internal to the blurb. We'll see an example of "text pattern X predicting (or not) text pattern Y" in our Capitalism and Democracy lecture.

Q3. In the final part of the lecture, we talk about a particular type of analysis that we might apply, using blurbs that describe Irad Kimhi's Thinking and Being as an example. What is it? 

(A) How the blurbs relate to past blurbs in analytic philosophy.
(B) How the blurbs correlate with the author's gender.

(C) How the blurbs might involve a combination of different patterns.
(D) How the blurbs attempt to alert the reader to the fact that this book is hard to read but have the opposite effect, through the same psychological trick that Tom Sawyer used to get his friends to paint the fence.

Correct Answer: (C)  In particular, we related them to the use of pattern-matching tools that were used in the analysis of French Revolution speeches.

Answer (A) is a good suggestion for a diachronic analysis, and (B) is an example of the signal style analysis. However, both of these suggestions are agnostic to the particular style of pattern assignment we use.