• 11 October 2022

A Case Study of Online Fanfiction Communities

On July 8th 2022, Julia Neugarten gave a talk at the Venice Center for Digital & Public Humanities. Here, she presented her research into the expression of reading impact in the Harry Potter fanfiction community.

Using sentiment analysis tool Linguistic Inquiry & Word Count (Pennebaker et. al 2015) and corpus analysis tool Sketch Engine (Kilgariff et. al 2014), Julia Neugarten analyzed reviews for works of fanfiction in three genres unique to fanfiction communities (angst, fluff, and hurt/comfort) to assess the ways that fanfiction affectively impacts its readership and the differences in affective impact between fanfiction-genres.

Additionally, she reflected on the methodological steps involved in this research project by gathering corpora of fanfiction reviews through web scraping, analyzing the reviews with this specific combination of digital tools, and interpreting the results by examining selected works of fanfiction and their reviews.

While this methodology was designed to play to the strengths of both digital and more traditional literary studies, the process of carrying out this research has generated some critical insights into the (in)accessibility of digital humanities scholarship. Thus, Neugarten also presented some thoughts on the role of digital infrastructure projects such as CLARIAH in making digital humanities resources more accessible and visible. How can a digital infrastructure project like CLARIAH facilitate and stimulate interesting research in the digital humanities and stimulate scholars from various humanities disciplines to engage with its infrastructure? CLARIAH aims to enhance the accessibility of Digital Humanities by making datasets available open access, by providing clear tutorials and manuals for tools and software, and by facilitating interaction and discussion between digital humanists.

The presentation takes approximately 30 minutes. At the end, Neugarten introduced some discussion questions about the goals, scope and limitations of a digital infrastructure for humanities research such as CLARIAH. From these questions, a fruitful discussion arose about the nature of CLARIAH, that she and her colleagues can now use to adapt the project to the wants and needs of digital humanists. This discussion was not recorded to ensure the privacy of all participants.

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