• Novels Shaping the Economy A Quantitative Analysis of How Novels Contribute to the Study of Social and Economic Developments (work in progress)

    Daniella Gáti (see profile) , Laura Gáti
    CSDH-SCHN 2021: Making the Network
    Digital humanities, Economics, Economics and literature
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
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    CSDH-SCHN 2021
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    Literature and economics
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    WORK IN PROGRESS - THIS IS FOR DEMONSTRATION PURPOSES ONLY. PLEASE ENJOY. This paper investigates the relationship between quantified sentiments of award-winning novels and economic short and long-run sentiments. In an era where the value of literature is increasingly questioned in favor of quantifiable data, we use quantitative methods to demonstrate the importance of literary material for the understanding of the social world. In particular, we show that novels contain much useful insight for the analysis of the economic conditions of society at a particular time. We conduct a sentiment analysis of prize-winning novels of the Pulitzer, National Book Award, PEN Faulkner, PEN Hemingway and Book Critics Circle awards from the years 1948-2018. We assign the novels quantitative sentiment scores, and correlate these data with expressions of economic sentiment such as financial market data and structural macroeconomic indicators. We hypothesize that while novels may not function as predic- tors of economic developments in the short run due to the time it takes to write and publish them, they do become valuable descriptors of the structural conditions of the economy at a particular time, as well as of medium-run optimism/pessimism regarding the economy. If novels capture valuable information on the economic zeitgeist of an era, we must conclude that literary analysis should be part of any serious attempt to understand social developments in the post-45 United States. To our knowledge, our project is the first to demonstrate using quantitative methods the usefulness of qualitative literary analysis.
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