Studying rhetorical history

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Rhetorical history is traditionally studied through rhetorical treatises or selected rhetorical practices, for example the speeches of major orators. Although valuable sources, these do not give us the answers to all our questions. Indeed, focus on a few canonical works or the major historical key figures might even lead us to reproduce cultural self-identifications and false generalizations.

However, thanks to increasing availability of relevant digitized texts, we are now at a point where it is possible to see how new research questions can be formulated – and how old research questions can be addressed from a new angle or established results verified – on the basis of exhaustive collections of data, rather than small samples, but where a methodology has not yet established itself.

In the framework of the knowledge-based culturomics project and in collaboration with the SWE-CLARIN e-science infrastructure initiative <>, we hope to demonstrate the usefulness to the field of rhetorical history of the large-scale language-aware text-mining facilities made available in the culturomics project, and hopefully point to some interesting research problems and how they can be analyzed using these “big-data” methods. In doing this, we also aim to make a contribution to method development in e-science for the humanities and social sciences, and in particular in the framework of CLARIN.

This subproject is a collaboration between

  1. Jon Viklund, Department of Literature, Uppsala University
  2. Lars Borin, Språkbanken, University of Gothenburg