Sydney Digital Humanities Research Group seminar | A Computational Perspective on North Korean Literature
A Computational Perspective on North Korean Literature
Dr Benoit Berthelier (The University of Sydney)
Heavily politicized and following a centrally planned production process, North Korean literature operates in very different cultural, economic and political context than the one in which most modern theories of literature were developed in. This presentation will discuss how computational methods can be used to build analyses from scratch of marginal(ized) literary systems in order to question or bypass the assumptions of traditional conceptions of literature. The first part of the talk details the compilation process of a large historical corpora of North Korean literature through the reverse engineering of e-readers and the decryption of e-books. It highlights how analyzing the software used to distribute and consume books becomes increasingly important to understand the economics and legal concepts (intellectual property) underlying contemporary literary systems. The second part of the talk discusses the use of text mining and time series analysis for literary history. The final part of the talk shows how recent advances in artificial intelligence (masked language modelling) can be leveraged for tasks such as unsupervised cliché detection and the modelling of literary originality. Applying these tools to the North Korean case, it describes the peculiar economics of literary originality in the North Korean literary field.
About the presenters
Benoit Berthelier is a Lecturer in Korean Studies at the University of Sydney, specializing on the cultural and technological history of Korea. His digital humanities research projects have applied computer vision, text mining and reverse engineering to the study of North Korean visual culture, literary standards and legal history. He is currently working on a book manuscript on the history of computing and digital technologies in North Korea, from computerized planning during the Cold War to contemporary surveillance and propaganda technologies.
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