Department of English - Carnegie Mellon University
Open Panel on Non-traditional Authorship Attribution
Department of English Carnegie Mellon
University of Virginia
During the last three or four ACH-ALLC conferences, many of the people working in
the areas of non-traditional authorship attribution, stylistics, and other
related fields met over coffee, discussed various problems, and expressed the
need for a more formal gathering. This group included the following (and I
apologize if I missed anyone -- no notes were taken): Harald Baayen, Richard Forsyth, Bernie Frischer, Lyman W.
Gurney, Penelope J. Gurney, David Holmes, Thomas B. Horton, Joseph
Rudman, and Fiona Tweedy.
I have been asked by many of these practitioners to arrange a panel at this
meeting. It is an open panel -- anyone may request an item be placed on the
agenda and lead the discussion for that item. The final "members" of the panel
will include many practitioners not on the above list.
There will be no papers presented during this session. It will be a moderated,
modified open discussion on the state of non-traditional authorship studies, the
direction these studies should be going, and how to get there.
Practitioners were and invited to submit short (~5 minutes) summaries of leading
edge work in progress for possible inclusion in the session. No more than four
of these will be scheduled for presentation in the session. Everyone was invited
to post "work in progress" summaries by May 30, so that these would be digested
before the session convenes.
Talking points were made available before the meeting to all interested members
of the ACH-ALLC. We did not want to dictate which talking points should be
discussed. We have solicited suggestions for talking points, questions, and/or
comments from all interested parties and only then was an agenda set.
Since the final agenda was not be set until shortly before the meeting, we can
only give a conceptual overview in this abstract.
The following were "seed" talking points and were made available to all
1. Are any published non-traditional authorship attribution studies
2. What elements must a non-traditional authorship attribution study
have to be valid?
3. How can we answer Furbank and Owens' statement, "...stylometry
cannot be classed as a `science,' and must presumably be thought of only
as an aspiration."?
4. Why can practitioners not agree on which statistical tests should
5. Is quantifiable style a closed system?
6. How do we account for the changing concept of "author?"
7. What is wrong with non-traditional authorship studies?
8. What is right with non-traditional studies?
9. What, if anything, should be done by this group to bring some kind
of order to the field?
One topic that was suggested by Professor Gerald R.
McMenamin and put on the agenda after the conference proposal was
accepted and before the deadline for this abstract is:
The Value of Forensic Linguistics to Non-Traditional Authorship
This entire panel session will be recorded, transcribed, and disseminated. An
edited and expanded version of the transcription is planned.
We will discuss if this should become an annual session (subject each year to
the approval of the appropriate committee) during the ACH-ALLC conference.
We do invite any interested conference attendee to join in this open panel
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Hosted at University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
June 9, 1999 - June 13, 1999
102 works by 157 authors indexed
Conference website: http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/ach-allc.99/schedule.html