Beautiful lips and porcelain cheeks: Extracting physical descriptions from recent Dutch fiction

Corina Koolen, S. Wubben, Andreas van Cranenburgh

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


    Chick-lit novels have often been researched in literary theory, but never on the same plane as literary novels. Claims on the relative importance of physicality in chick lit are not based on an actual comparison. We therefore investigate the descriptions of characters’ physical appearance in a corpus of chick-lit and literary novels. We have manually annotated sentences where the appearance of a character is described. The results contradict claims that chick lit would have more physical descriptions because it is more preoccupied with physicality. We then apply a machine learning methodology and manually write lexical-syntactic queries to automate the extraction of these descriptions. When we use a combination of the two automated methods, the extraction of physical descriptions from chick lit is more successful, which suggests that such descriptions are more uniform in character.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationDigital Humanities 2014
    Place of PublicationLausanne, Switzerland
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2014
    EventDigital Humanities 2014 - École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
    Duration: 7 Jul 201412 Jul 2014


    ConferenceDigital Humanities 2014


    • digital humanities
    • fiction
    • descriptions


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