Digital Humanities and Princeton Research Day Projects 2023

Every year, Princeton Research Day gives Princeton undergraduate, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars an opportunity to showcase their research to the public through three-minute video presentations.

Princeton Research Day 2023 featured students who included aspects of Digital Humanities in their projects. Many of the students who used DH to answer their research questions took HUM 307: Literature as Data, co-taught by CDH Faculty Director Meredith Martin (English) and former CDH Acting Faculty Director Brian W. Kernighan (Computer Science). Most of these students used online databases and then used tools from Python or other data-organizing tools to refine, search, and organize the data to help answer their research questions.

Below is a list of undergraduates who used digital humanities in their Princeton Research Day 2023 projects, as well as a brief introduction to their research with a link to their videos. Students are organized by graduation dates. (Note: A project created by students in different class years is listed under the class year of the more senior of the students.)

Class of 2023

AnneMarie Caballero: “Gendered Topics: Boyhood and Girlhood in a Century of (Cotsen) Children’s Literature”

AnneMarie’s project examined themes across nineteenth-century children’s literature by using the Cotsen Children’s Literature dataset. She analyzed the relationship of domesticity and the gender of the protagonists in children’s literature, and ultimately concluded that home defined both boys’ and girls’ stories, but in different ways: boys’ stories were shaped by the absence of home, but home was the defining space for girls’ stories. [Editor’s Note: AnneMarie was recently named the winner of the CDH Senior Thesis Prize.]

Anthony Ng and Kurt Lemai ’25: “The Transformation of Light Novels”

Kurt and Anthony explored how the content and title lengths of light novels (a popular form of short young-adult fiction novels in Japan) has changed over the past 50 years. They observed that the genre of light novels has shifted from romance and mystery novels to stories more focused on fantasy, and that the title lengths of light novels have become extremely long, but that this shift only took place in the last five to six years.

Class of 2024

Eddie Button: “What is Popularity in Spotify Playlists?”

Eddie was interested in finding a connection between the number of followers that each Spotify playlist has and the tracks and artists in each playlist. To do so, he used Spotify’s Million-Playlist Dataset to help him consolidate playlists into a spreadsheet. Although he did not ultimately find a concrete connection between the popularity of a playlist and the popularity of the artists on the playlist, he did observe that popular playlists had more popular artists than popular tracks.

Joseph Himmelfarb and Zoe Montague: “Who are You Singing About?: Key Names and Gendered Terms in Popular Music”

Joseph and Zoe explored which names were most frequently referenced in song lyrics. Using Billboard’s “Year-End Hot 100” lists from 1965 to 2015, they decided to organize names according to gender. They discovered several trends, including the increased use of gendered slurs around the year 2015, and that male names were used more than female names in pop music.

Louisa Sarofim: “Uncovering the Allure of the Young Adult Novel”

Louisa analyzed reviews of young adult novels from the popular book-rating site Goodreads to answer why young adult novels have thrived in recent years. Her research ultimately revealed that any given young adult novel’s success can be best understood by different methods (such as the writing style or the plot) rather than any one determining factor.

Claire Schultz: “Placing Domesday Anonymous Women”

Claire studied the names and titles of the anonymous women in the Domesday survey (a survey of English landholdings conducted in 1068, shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066), using a dataset made by The Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England. By looking at these anonymous women, Claire hoped to gain insight into the quotidian aspects of their lives.

Class of 2025

Moses Abrahamson: “Slave Voyages: Graphing the Frequency of Voyages From Origin Ports of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Over Time”

Moses analyzed slave voyage data from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database to visualize how the slave trade developed over time. He compared the top five origin ports of the slave trade (measuring by frequency of voyages embarking from these ports) from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. By comparing the data, he confirmed the historical trend the British, the French, and the Portuguese were the European powers most active in the slave trade.

Rosie Eden and Isabel Yip: “Uncovering Coverage: March Madness in The Daily Princetonian

Isabel and Rosie’s project analyzed how The Daily Princetonian portrayed the NCAA’s Men’s March Madness Tournament from 1952 to 2011. Their data showed that the Princeton men’s basketball team was frequently characterized as “underdog,” and that the term “defense” was used more than “offense.” They concluded that these distinctions reinforced the characterization of Princeton as a scrappy, “underdog” team, not only throughout regular season play, but especially in the NCAA tournament.

Vincent Gerardi: “‘Comunicanimation’: Finding Belonging Through Aesthetic Critique on”

Vincent analyzed the “Anime Dataset with Reviews” from to learn more about the popularity of different anime shows and try to discover trends about what makes an anime show popular. While he was not able to discover any strong correlations between the aspects of the show and how they were ranked, through the process, he discovered that critiques and reviews on MyAnimeList helped create community among MyAnimeList users.

Clara McWeeny: “A Gendered Study of Sonic Suspensions in the 19th Century Novel”

Clara’s project examined how speech is described in nineteenth-century British novels; she was primarily interested not in what was spoken in these novels, but in how these conversations were spoken. She discovered that “said,” followed by “cried (out)” occurred the most frequently, and that female authors were more likely to use the term “cry out” to describe speech than their male counterparts. Additionally, female characters (written by both female and male authors) were more likely to “cry out” their speech than male characters.

August Roberts: “Who Tells the Story: Speech in Collaborative Roleplaying Games”

August’s project focused on how non-traditional ways of storytelling allow for LGBTQ+ representation. To do this, they researched transcripts from the Dungeons & Dragons actual play Dimension 20 to examine how the gender and sexuality of the D&D players (and the characters they played) contributed to collaborative storytelling and enabled representation of underrepresented social groups.

Class of 2026

Christian Altawil: “Which Premier League Has the Worst Fans?”

Christian set out to discover which Premier League team had the worst fans. He decided to do this by analyzing team chants through the website fanchants. He then took that data to compare chants from different teams, and to find out which chants used the most swear words, which chants complained about the referees the most, and which teams insulted other teams the most in their chants.

Isabella Dail and Connor Frank: “Place and the New York Philharmonic”

Isabella and Connor’s project analyzed a dataset about the New York Philharmonic’s performance history. They narrowed their research to geographic location—where the New York Philharmonic has played throughout the twentieth century—to examine the connection between music and place. With their findings, they created a visual map to show each location where the New York Philharmonic has played.

Tenzing Sherpa: “Culinary Trends Throughout History in NYC”

Tenzing’s project used the New York Public Library’s What’s on the Menu Database to explore culinary trends in New York City from 1860-2000. He analyzed the average price of dishes, seasonal trends, and the most popular dishes by decade.

These students represent only a part of Princeton students who participated in Princeton Research Day 2023. To see all of the Princeton Research Day 2023 videos, please visit the Princeton Research Day site.

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