Anna Jafarpour


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Uncovering Surprising Event Boundaries in Narratives
Zhilin Wang | Anna Jafarpour | Maarten Sap
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop of Narrative Understanding (WNU2022)

When reading stories, people can naturally identify sentences in which a new event starts, i.e., event boundaries, using their knowledge of how events typically unfold, but a computational model to detect event boundaries is not yet available. We characterize and detect sentences with expected or surprising event boundaries in an annotated corpus of short diary-like stories, using a model that combines commonsense knowledge and narrative flow features with a RoBERTa classifier. Our results show that, while commonsense and narrative features can help improve performance overall, detecting event boundaries that are more subjective remains challenging for our model. We also find that sentences marking surprising event boundaries are less likely to be causally related to the preceding sentence, but are more likely to express emotional reactions of story characters, compared to sentences with no event boundary.