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Presentation on “Typicality”

The “typical” novel often serves as a point of comparison in the process of literary critique, particularly in discussions of how the canonical departs from the majority of literary fiction. But what is the typical novel? While traditional literary criticism confuses typicality with exemplarity, this project investigates the quantitatively typical, or “average” novel. What novels lie closest to the semantic, topical or lexical mean? Can we measure an author’s most typical work, or even passage? And how do the pressures of novelty and influence drive what is considered “typical” in American literature? Algee-Hewitt and Fredner are excited to share their latest round of results with the lab and eager to have your feedback as they continue to explore literary typicality.