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Big Ten Emerging Scholar Lecture: Laura McGrath

Date: Time: 3:30 pm–5:00 pm
Andrews Hall Room: Bailey Library
Additional Info: ANDR
Contact: Marco Abel,
“Comp Titles, Computation, and Contemporary Literature”

More than bestseller lists or academic consecration via syllabi, “comps” (short for “comparative titles”) represent the most significant metric of literary value in contemporary publishing. Comps are identified by editors in the acquisition process to predict a book’s performance on the market and are often the deciding factor in a new acquisition. In this talk McGrath will use large-scale computational methods to analyze comp title data obtained from publishers’ quarterly catalogs, 2013-2017; she shows how comps produce and replicate “corporate taste,” not only limiting what—and who—is published, but defining literary style in the contemporary.

Laura McGrath is Associate Director of the Literary Lab and postdoctoral fellow in English at Stanford University. She holds a Ph.D. in English and Digital Humanities from Michigan State University. Her primary research interests lie in computational approaches to post45 American fiction. She is at work on a manuscript entitled MIDDLEMEN: MAKING LITERATURE IN THE AGE OF MULTIMEDIA CONGLOMERATES.

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