Edible Book Festival, April 1st

EdibleBookFestival The 9th Annual Edible Book Festival will take place on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at the University YMCA in Champaign (1001 South Wright Street). According to the Library News & Events website,

“Edible art entries have a connection to books as shapes or content. Prizes will be awarded for the best culinary creations—which will be displayed, judged, and consumed. As I Lay FryingThe Bundt for Red OctoberThe Pie Who Loved Me, and The Lord of the Fries were among the entries last year.”

Each year the festival features a special category; this year the special category is Banned Books. This year’s Edible Book Festival is sponsored by the University Library. For more information, please visit the Edible Book Festival website.


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Panel Discussion: Libraries Under Siege, Friday February 7th

The International Committee of the GSLIS ALA Student Chapter will be hosting a panel discussion, “Libraries Under Siege: Censorship, Access, and Endurance in the Middle East” this Friday, February 7th, 2014. Kathryn La Barre, a GSLIS faculty member, will be moderating the event. According to the event page on the GSLIS website:

“This panel discussion will focus on the role of Middle Eastern libraries in environments fraught with civil unrest and military conflict. The participants will discuss censorship, access, power and politics in Syrian, Lebanese, and Egyptian institutions.”

Panelists will include Inaam Charaf, Randa Chidiac, and Laila Hussein Moustafa. Read more about this event and the panelists from the GSLIS newsroom.

The discussion will take place from 10:00am-11:30am in LIS 126 and is a joint on-campus/virtual event. To join the event virtually, visit this webpage.

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February 7: Worlding Realisms

Worlding Realisms is a one-day symposium hosted by the Unit of Criticism and Interpretative Theory on realist fiction, photography, film, and television. The event will be held on Friday, February 7th at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center on the UIUC campus.

The keynote will be given by Jed Esty (Penn), and many prominent scholars will participate as panelists including Ulka Anjaria (Brandeis), Ayelet Ben Yishai (Haifa), Colleen Lye (Berkeley), Sean O’Sullivan (Ohio State), Miriam  Thaggert (Iowa) and Terri Weisman (Art History).  The event will culminate with a roundtable moderated by Eleanor Courtemanche with responses from Harriet Murav (Slavic), Safiya Noble (GSLIS), François Proulx (French), and Rob Rushing (Italian/Media & Cinema Studies).

In preparation for this event, the Unit for Criticism is hosting a 2-meeting seminar on January 27 and February 3.  Readings and more information about the seminar can be found at http://criticism.english.illinois.edu/2014%20Spring%20pages/Seminar_Spring2014.html.

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The Best-Selling Algorithm

A group of scientists at Stony Brook University have developed an algorithm which can predict with 84 per cent accuracy whether a book will be a commercial success. Using a technique called “statistical stylometry,” they examine an author’s use of words and grammar. According to their study, successful books tended to include heavy use of conjunctions, and used a large number of nouns and adjectives, focusing less on verbs and adverbs. Furthermore, books that favored verbs describing thought-processes (e.g. “recognized” and “remembered”) and verbs that served to quote and report (e.g. “say”) were more successful than books that relied on verbs that are explicitly descriptive of actions and emotions (e.g. “promised,” “cried,” and “cheered”). The study drew on a number of works available through Project Gutenberg, focusing on first works from previously unseen authors. The scientists write:

“Predicting the success of novels is a curious ques-
tion among publishers, professional book reviewers,
aspiring and even expert writers alike. There are po-
tentially many influencing factors, some of which
concern the intrinsic content and quality of the book,
such as interestingness, novelty, style of writing, and
engaging storyline, but external factors such as so-
cial context and even luck can play a role. As a re-
sult, recognizing successful literary work is a hard
task even for experts working in the publication in-

For those who are looking for a little writing advice outside of the ubiquitous Strunk & White, this article might give you a thing or two to think about. And for those interested in natural language processing, the article is a must-read. See it here:

Ashok, Vikas Ganjigunte, Song Feng, and Yejin Choi. “Success with Style: Using Writing Style to Predict the Success of Novels,” Emperical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP), 2013.

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Introduction to Text Encoding with TEI workshop

Spend a weekend learning about the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) markup language, an important tool for digital humanities research! Take the “Introduction to Text Encoding with TEI” workshop at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) and learn the fundamentals of using XML for research, teaching, electronic publishing, and management of digital text collections. This hands-on workshop will be taught by Julia Flanders and Syd Bauman, experts known for their work on the Women Writers Project. During the two-and-a-half day course, participants will learn how to work with XML technologies to develop digital representations of texts using the TEI standard. The workshop will take place in the GSLIS building, beginning Friday, February 21 and ending Sunday, February 23, 2014.

Schedule, Cost, and Registration
Participants will meet in the GSLIS Learning Resource Lab for an introductory session on Friday evening and two full-day sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Participation is currently limited to 30 people seated at desktop workstations. Those bringing laptops will need to install a free trial version of the Oxygen XML editor – available from http://www.oxygenxml.com - on their computer prior to attending the workshop. Participants without prior markup experience will be asked to introduce themselves to TEI and XML by reading through a short suggested reading list, provided after registration.

Per person, the cost of the workshop is

  • $30 for current UIUC students;
  • $125 for UIUC faculty, staff, and alumni;
  • $300 for non-UIUC affiliates.

You must sign up and pay in advance to attend. To reserve your spot and begin the registration process, please email tei-workshop@illinois.edu with the following information:

  • your address,
  • phone number,
  • University of Illinois ID number
    • (if you are an alumni, your year of graduation)
    • (if you aren’t affiliated with the U of I, the name of the institution with which you are affiliated); and
  • whether you will bring your own laptop, and, if so,
    • which operating system you will use.

Those interested in attending the workshop are encouraged to register early as space is limited and the course fills up quickly. A registration waitlist will be kept after capacity is exceeded. Participants cancelling their reservation on or before February 14, 2014 will receive a 50% refund of their registration fee. Following this date, no refunds will be given.

This year’s workshop is co-organized by Ashley M. Clark and Megan Senseney. If you have any questions, please contact us at: tei-workshop@illinois.edu or (217) 244-5574.

About the Text Encoding Initiative
A seminal effort in the digital humanities community, the TEI is “an international and interdisciplinary standard that helps libraries, museums, publishers, and individual scholars represent all kinds of literary and linguistic texts for online research and teaching, using an encoding scheme that is maximally expressive and minimally obsolescent.” Allen Renear, GSLIS professor and interim dean, and John Unsworth, former GSLIS dean, have long been involved with the TEI community, and use of TEI markup is growing steadily. More information on the TEI can be found at the TEI Consortium website: http://www.tei-c.org/.

About the Instructors
Julia Flanders and Syd Bauman are active participants within the TEI and the Association for Computers and the Humanities. They have led numerous workshops, teaching the TEI standard to diverse groups at all levels of technical accomplishment. Julia and Syd work on the Women Writers Project (http://www.wwp.brown.edu/), a major text encoding effort of Northeastern University’s Digital Scholarship Group. Julia is Director of the Women Writers Project, as well as Professor of the Practice of English at Northeastern University. Syd is Senior Analyst for the Women Writers Project and former North American Editor of the TEI Guidelines.

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Fear and Loathing of the English Passive

A new study on the English passive has been published. The author is Geoffrey K. Pullum, who has been Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh since 2009. He has written:

“Writing advisers have been condemning the English passive since the early 20th century. I provide an informal but comprehensive syntactic description of passive clauses in English, and then exhibit numerous published examples of incompetent criticism in which critics reveal that they cannot tell passives from actives. Some seem to confuse the grammatical concept with a rhetorical one involving inadequate attribution of agency or responsibility, but not all examples are thus explained. The specific stylistic charges leveled against the passive are entirely baseless. The evidence demonstrates an extraordinary level of grammatical ignorance among educated English language critics.”

The article has been made available online here: “Fear and Loathing of the English Passive,” Geoffrey K. Pullum, epub January 10, 2014, to appear in Language and Communication, 2014.

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Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2014!  The librarians and staff in the Literatures and Languages Library are ready for a new semester and year, we hope you’re refreshed and ready too.  If you’re already back on campus, here’s when you can stop by and visit:

Winter Break hours (through 1/19):
M-F: 9am-5pm

January 21: CLOSED (MLK, Jr. Day)

Spring 2014 hours (1/22 – 5/16):
M-Th: 9am-7pm
F: 9am-5pm
Sa-Sun.: 1-5pm

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“Mad Men, Mad World Talk” at Chicago Humanities Festival in March Now Online

In March of this year, Duke University Press published the first collection of scholarly essays on the critically-acclaimed television series Mad Men, entitled Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s. On March 26th, the Chicago Humanities Festival, in association with Time Out Chicago, The Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern University, and the U of I’s Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, hosted an hour-long talk about the book project with its three editors, the U of I English Department’s Lauren M.E. Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky, and Robert Rushing. The talk was moderated by WBEZ host Alison Cuddy. It has now been posted to the Chicago Humanities Festival’s YouTube page and can be accessed here.

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The Great Gatsby Now in Movie Theaters

The second-highest grossing film at the box office this weekend–trailing only Iron Man 3–was The Great Gatsby, which earned an estimated $50.1 million. Not bad at all for a film with no explosions, car chases, or vampires. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, this 3D adaptation stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the title character (Jay Gatsby), Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. The film is, of course, a star-studded adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s most popular novel, which was first published in 1925. A copy of the first English edition of the novel from 1926 is currently housed at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Fitzgerald is generally regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the Modernist period, and is the face of the so-called “Jazz Age,” a term he coined. Along with The Great Gatsby, he also penned such notable works as “May Day” (1920), This Side of Paradise (1920), “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” (1922), “Babylon Revisited” (1931), and Tender is the Night (1934). The Literatures and Languages Library has nearly 100 primary and secondary resources by or about Fitzgerald.

Fewer people are familiar Fitzgerald‘s flirtations with Hollywood. He wrote, revised, and consulted on numerous scripts in the 1920s and 1930s. Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation is the fourth full-length rendering of the novel for the big screen. The first version, released in 1926, has been lost. A 1949 version, starring Alan Ladd as Jay Gatsby, was made, as well as a more popular version in 1974, starring Robert Redford as Gatsby and Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan.

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