Doctoral Research

Natural language generation (NLG) has taken over my life.

My doctoral thesis offers the first comprehensive analysis of NLG output reception from a humanities perspective. This analysis contributes to an understanding of where NLG fits within the current sociocultural and technological climates. It also contributes to an understanding of how the general population responds to NLG output. As NLG becomes increasingly common, such understandings are vital to programmers so that NLG systems may be developed according to more than just assumed needs, and to readers so that we can (if necessary) adapt the concept of media literacy to encompass this new(ish) genre.

My primary research aim was to discern the social, hermeneutic, and (in specific instances) literary implications of NLG and computer-generated texts. I did this through secondary research (shout-out to all the old white men who pioneered the field) as well as primary research (focus groups and an online reader response questionnaire). Despite my being based in an English department, I didn’t do literary analyses of NLG output. Instead, I looked at how people reacted to the idea that a text has been computer-generated.

My doctoral research was heavily steeped in book history. How do computer-generated texts challenge and/or adhere to our modern conceptions of authorship? Where does NLG fit within the history of communication?

Speaking of history, one look at my academic history will probably have you wondering why my research has spanned such a drastic range of time periods: I’ve moved from the medieval, to the 60s/70s, to what I believe will be the future. Some people have mentioned how all-over-the-place my research seems. But, when it comes right down to it, I study unconventional means of written/printed communication. The stuff that challenges us. That brings us out of our comfort zones.

My research is book history with an adrenaline rush.


Click here for a list of projects that I’d love to develop and undertake through postdocs.