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About the project

Status: active

Project team: Anna Mukamal, Mark Algee-Hewitt;

Collaborators: Lisa Mendelman, Kendra Terry;

Start date: Apr 1, 2020

Last updated: Jan 1, 2023

“TherapyTexts” is a collaboration between Mark Algee-Hewitt, Lisa Mendelman, Anna Mukamal, and Kendra Terry. Each of the collaborators on this project is curious about what is special about the therapeutic encounter, and we each bring different expertise to this organizing question. We mobilize methods from computational text analysis, literary studies, and clinical psychology to find points of contact between the therapeutic encounter, which we understand as a type of discourse, and other kinds of text, particularly literary texts.

Our central questions include: How can protocols from literary studies and computational text analysis can be applied to psychotherapeutic discourse issuing from a clinical setting? How does transcribed speech (in this case from therapy sessions) differ from other textual/discursive situations? How does the text of real therapy sessions compare to representations of therapy in literary fiction as well as to literary dialogue more broadly? And finally—and this is the experiment we’ve undertaken most thoroughly to date—which parts of 20th- and 21st-century literature look the most like therapy sessions?

Our first publication from this ongoing project (since Spring/Summer 2020) is a forthcoming article in a special issue of American Literary History on mental health: “Modeling Therapy as Discourse in the Twentieth-Century US Novel.” We have also presented our work at Literary Lab meetings, a CESTA Seminar (2021), and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI, 2021).