Mads Rosendahl Thomsen


Fractality of sentiment arcs for literary quality assessment: The case of Nobel laureates
Yuri Bizzoni | Kristoffer Laigaard Nielbo | Mads Rosendahl Thomsen
Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Digital Humanities

In the few works that have used NLP to study literary quality, sentiment and emotion analysis have often been considered valuable sources of information. At the same time, the idea that the nature and polarity of the sentiments expressed by a novel might have something to do with its perceived quality seems limited at best. In this paper, we argue that the fractality of narratives, specifically the long-term memory of their sentiment arcs, rather than their simple shape or average valence, might play an important role in the perception of literary quality by a human audience. In particular, we argue that such measure can help distinguish Nobel-winning writers from control groups in a recent corpus of English language novels. To test this hypothesis, we present the results from two studies: (i) a probability distribution test, where we compute the probability of seeing a title from a Nobel laureate at different levels of arc fractality; (ii) a classification test, where we use several machine learning algorithms to measure the predictive power of both sentiment arcs and their fractality measure. Our findings seem to indicate that despite the competitive and complex nature of the task, the populations of Nobel and non-Nobel laureates seem to behave differently and can to some extent be told apart by a classifier.

Predicting Literary Quality How Perspectivist Should We Be?
Yuri Bizzoni | Ida Marie Lassen | Telma Peura | Mads Rosendahl Thomsen | Kristoffer Nielbo
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Perspectivist Approaches to NLP @LREC2022

Approaches in literary quality tend to belong to two main grounds: one sees quality as completely subjective, relying on the idiosyncratic nature of individual perspectives on the apperception of beauty; the other is ground-truth inspired, and attempts to find one or two values that predict something like an objective quality: the number of copies sold, for example, or the winning of a prestigious prize. While the first school usually does not try to predict quality at all, the second relies on a single majority vote in one form or another. In this article we discuss the advantages and limitations of these schools of thought and describe a different approach to reader’s quality judgments, which moves away from raw majority vote, but does try to create intermediate classes or groups of annotators. Drawing on previous works we describe the benefits and drawbacks of building similar annotation classes. Finally we share early results from a large corpus of literary reviews for an insight into which classes of readers might make most sense when dealing with the appreciation of literary quality.


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Sentiment Dynamics of Success: Fractal Scaling of Story Arcs Predicts Reader Preferences
Yuri Bizzoni | Telma Peura | Mads Rosendahl Thomsen | Kristoffer Nielbo
Proceedings of the Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Digital Humanities

e explore the correlation between the sentiment arcs of H. C. Andersen’s fairy tales and their popularity, measured as their average score on the platform GoodReads. Specifically, we do not conceive a story’s overall sentimental trend as predictive per se, but we focus on its coherence and predictability over time as represented by the arc’s Hurst exponent. We find that degrading Hurst values tend to imply degrading quality scores, while a Hurst exponent between .55 and .65 might indicate a “sweet spot” for literary appreciation.