The Effect of Literary Genre on Authorial Style: A Computational Stylistics Analysis of English Renaissance Plays, Poems, and Narrative Prose




In attribution study (as in literary studies more broadly), literary genre is assumed to affect an author’s style; to mitigate its possible effects, attribution tests to determine authorship generally rely on samples from the same literary genre from which to generate unique stylistic ‘profiles’ or authorial ‘fingerprints’. A poem of unknown or disputed authorship, for example, ordinarily will be compared only with poems of known authorship. This critical assumption is intuitive but largely untested. Using computational stylistics to analyse samples of drama, poetry, and prose (drawn from the EEBO-TCP Phase I corpus of open-access, machine-readable transcriptions of early modern English texts printed between 1473 and 1700), this project interrogates this long-standing assumption about the effect of literary genre on authorial style and, by quantifying and accounting for these effects, suggests new ways to attribute authorship using generically diverse texts.

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