The Cycle of News in Chronicles from Eighteenth Century Holland: A Stylometric Approach

Scholars agree that cultural changes in early modern Europe (c. 1500-1800) were both accompanied and precipitated by an information revolution. The use of printed media filtered down into local chronicles. These are hand-written narratives produced usually by middle class authors, that recorded events and phenomena they considered important (local politics, upheavals, climate, prices, crime, deaths). Authors frequently copied excerpts from earlier chronicles, official documents, local announcements and by-laws, and increasingly copied or inserted printed material, like ballads, pamphlets, and newspapers, without being explicit about the fact that they were copying (Pollmann 2016).This project will focus on automatically finding what parts of the chronicles contain the wordings of the chronicler him(/her)self and what parts might be copied. We will apply both close reading and computational stylometry techniques that are often used in authorship verification. Students will work in the framework of the NWO project Chronicling Novelty. New Knowledge in The Netherlands (1500-1850).

Academy Assistants

Lianne Wilhelmus: In the Chronicling Novelty project, I am concerned with close reading of our source, an 18th century chronicle. I try to list all the sources our author has referred to and in this way I try to find out what his ‘information world’ (all the ways he got information: books, newspapers, jaarboeken, etc). Ultimately, by understanding the source and the author completly, I can act as a controller of the test results by stylo that will deal with the possible authors of the copied fragments.