The Consortium Profiling Premodern Authors (PROPREAU) applies and develops new flexible machine learning-based tools for the analysis and classification of texts in order to explore several fundamental and unresolved questions of authorship in classical and medieval Latin texts. Despite the cultural importance of Latin, many essential texts remain anonymous. This is largely so because of the highly conservative nature of Latin based culture, characterized by imitation of earlier authors and quoting excerpts of their texts. Therefore, authorship attribution requires an analysis and comparison of large quantities of text. PROPREAU incorporates machine learning-based tools developed at the Turku NLP Group (IT Department) into the conventional argumentation of the humanities, allowing a much wider look at textual material than is attainable by single scholars using conventional methods.
The expected results of the Consortium are new, well-grounded answers to questions of authorship that were previously considered unsolvable. PROPREAU will provide guidelines and new computational methods for future endeavors to identify anonymous premodern texts. The subproject at the Department of Cultural History addresses several significant aspects of the Latin literary culture: the identification of the authors of Latin grammatical texts and their relations, the recognition of documents written in the Papal chancery, and the identification of late-medieval polemical treatises. The subproject of the IT Department will create novel approaches that address the specific challenges of the domain through task-oriented feature selection and training, and the proposed approaches will further be implemented as software released under open licenses.
The Consortium is funded by the Academy of Finland, Digital Humanities Academy Programme (2016-2019)
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