Mon. Oct 21 Friends Talk: Diaries as Data

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Diaries as Data; or, How a Computer Scientist Taught an English Professor How to Read the Most Valuable Document of Walt Whitman's Bohemian Period

Diaries as Data; or, How a Computer Scientist Taught an English Professor How to Read the Most Valuable Documents of Walt Whitman's Bohemian Period

Friends of the Libraries speaker series, Monday, October 21, 4:10 pm, Scheler Humanities Forum (Linderman 200)

Presented by Eric P. S. Baumer (Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering) and Edward Whitley (Professor of English).

For years, scholars and biographers have known very little about Walt Whitman's time with the bohemians of antebellum New York. Recently, Whitman scholars have benefited from digital access to the 22-volume diaries of the writer Thomas Butler Gunn, which provide a detailed, day-to-day account of life in bohemian New York.

In an effort to better understand the information in the 2,000 pages that Gunn wrote, Lehigh Computer Scientist Eric P. S. Baumer partnered with English Professor Edward Whitley and Senior Digital Scholarship Specialist Rob Weidman to create a topic model of the Gunn diaries. In machine learning and natural language processing, a topic model is used to discover hidden patterns across a large textual corpus. Baumer and his team of students created an interactive visualization of the Gunn diaries topic model, then worked with Whitley and Weidman to discover new insights about Whitman's bohemian period.

This event is free and open to the public. Join us after the lecture for Oktoberfest in the Linderman Café Gallery where we have the exhibit featuring The Vault at Pfaff’s, a New York pub frequented by Whitman in the 1850s. Soft pretzels and root beer served!

Sponsored by The Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries.