Romantic Realignments is one of the longest-running research seminars in Oxford.

Past speakers have included Marilyn Butler, Gerard Carruthers, David Chandler, Heather Glen, Paul Muldoon, Philip Shaw, Fiona Stafford and Peter Swaab, to name but a few.

All are very welcome to submit an abstract — we aim to provide a friendly 'workshop' setting in which speakers can try out new papers as well as more finished pieces, and in which lively discussion can flourish.

Held on Thursdays at 5.15pm, Seminar Room A, St Cross (English Faculty) Building.

If you would like to send us an abstract or suggest a speaker, please contact the current convenors Katherine Fender, Sarah Goode and Honor Rieley at:


week 5: Identifying Coleridge: The Detection of Authorial Style

Week 5: Thursday 14th February. Ferrar room, Hertford college, 5.15.

Identifying Coleridge: The Detection of Authorial Style

Dr Peter Millican, Hertford College

Last term OUP published a new edition of Goethe's Faustus, in an impressive but anonymous 1821 translation that had previously been attributed to George Soane. The editors, Fred Burwick of UCLA and Jim McKusick of Montana, had long suspected that the real author might be Coleridge, based on the translation's magnificent style and some circumstantial evidence. Objective proof, however, eluded them until McKusick hit upon the idea of using computer-aided "stylometry" in the form of Signature, a software package published in 2003 by Peter Millican (Director of the Electronic Text Centre at Leeds, now Philosophy Fellow at Hertford, and an eighteenth-century scholar). McKusick's subsequent analysis provided solid statistical support for what has been described as " the biggest breakthrough in Coleridge scholarship in a hundred years".

In this talk, Peter Millican will be explaining McKusick's methods, whilst unveiling the new version of the Signature system and illustrating its potential for illuminating literary mysteries, from Aristotle and the Bible to Shakespeare and the eighteenth-century novel. Version 2.0 has been greatly enhanced, with a range of new user-friendly tools for exploring both authorship and the development of literary style. The main aim is to persuade scholars that stylometry is a worthy and fascinating addition to their repertoire of research methods, but also to offer assistance in future projects.

Publicity on Burwick and McKusick's work can be found at:

Article in The Independent about McKusick's edition:

1 comment:

  1. For a sceptical review of McKusick and Burwick's edition of Faustus by Roger Paulin, William St. Clair and Elinor Shaffer (which, however, does not discuss stylometric software in detail) see:


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