Measuring Subgenres: Quantitative Approaches to Paratextual Labeling and Readers’ Expectations

Lecture | February 15 | 4-6 p.m. | Dwinelle Hall, 4125A (level D)

 Nicholas Paige, UC Berkeley French

 Department of French

This event will feature two presentations of ongoing quantitative research into the adoption of labels for novelistic subgenres — phrases such as “a novel of manners” and “a historical novel.” Is the appearance of generic subtitles on title pages a reliable indicator of a novel’s content? Do such subtitles spread in a predictable fashion, and to what extent does their use traverse national and linguistic boundaries? And on the part of readers, to what extent do generic classifications affect their expectations and guide the interpretation of a novel? Is there evidence for the existence of genre-specific practices of reading? Nicholas Paige will present data on subtitles in the French and English novel over the period 1601-1830; Benjamin Gittel will address the reception of German historical novels in the second half of the nineteenth century.