I am an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Prior to that I was, for eleven years, a Lecturer and “embedded” Academic Technology Specialist (ATS) in the Department of English at Stanford University. During that time I co-founded and directed the Stanford Literary Lab with Franco Moretti.
My research and teaching is focused on computational text analysis, specifically an approach that I call “macroanalysis.” My literary training was in Irish and Irish-American literature of the late 19th- and early 20th-century. I have published articles about Irish writers in Kansas, Montana, and California. Some years ago, I compiled a fairly comprehensive and searchable bibliography of Irish-American writers and their books. A small full text archive and searchable version of the bibliography was for many years hosted by the The Western Institute of Irish Studies, which I co-founded with former Irish Consul, Dónal Denham. I directed the Institute from its founding in 2004 to 2009.
In 2006-2007 I spent a year at the Stanford Humanities Center where I was “Research Scholar in the Digital Humanities.” During that time, I set up the “Beyond Search Workshop” which eventually morphed into the Literary Lab that I co-directed with Franco Moretti from 2010 to 2012.
Over the years I have taught courses and given seminars on text-encoding with TEI-XML, text analysis using php, and text-mining with my favorite programming language R. My non-literary work with technology has encompassed everything from systems administration and database design to web development and technical support.
Beyond these academic pursuits, I enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.
I grew up fly fishing Montana’s blue ribbon trout streams, especially the Yellowstone River in and around Livingston, Montana, but the most exciting day of fly fishing I’ve ever had was at Boca Paila Preserve in Mexico.
For years I was an avid rock climber
From 2003 – 2005 I played rugby with the Mission Rugby Football Club.
Most recently I have taken up LSD (that’s Long Slow Distance or “ultra-running”). On August 6, 2006 I ran my first ultra marathon, the Skyline 50K in 5:54:46. On October 7, 2006 I ran the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Mile Race in 10:14:25. . .as my friend Tim used to say about my skills as a drywall finisher, “he’s not very good but he sure is slow.”
The following year I tried the Dick Collins race again despite two weeks with a fever and chest cold. I DNF’ed (that’s “Did Not Finish”) after 33 miles. Since then I have run a few standard Marathons: the Silicon Valley Marathon in 2007 and the inaugural 2010 Morgan Hill Marathon (03:54:06), but I have not raced in any ultras. I keep thinking that entering the Badwater Ultramarathon would be a swell idea! Badwater is a 135 mile race run through Death Valley and up Mt. Whitney, in July. So that’s what’s on my running radar.
Below are some links to articles and interviews about my work in Humanities Computing (articles profiling my career as an ultra-runner have yet to materialize:-)
Laidlaw, Chris. Interview with Radio New Zealand, March 3, 2013.
Abourezk, Kevin. “Gene sequencing, Hawthorne style.” Lincoln Journal Star. March 01, 2013
Smith, Steve. “UNL professor leads collaboration opening 300 years of books for data analysis.” News Release, Office of University Communications, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. February 20, 2013.
Lohr, Steve. “Dickens, Austen and Twain, Through a Digital Lens.” New York Times. January 26, 2013. [A version of this article appeared in print on January 27, 2013, on page BU3 of the New York edition.]
Pannapacker, William Rebooting Graduate Education in the Humanities. Chronicle of Higher Education. Tuesday, January 8, 2013.
Staff. “By text-mining the classics, UNL prof unearths new literary insights.” UNL News Blog. Thursday, August 23rd, 2012. More Coverage at:
Coldewey, Devin. “Data mining the classics makes for beautiful science.” Future of Tech on NBC News. August 20, 2012.
Clark, Liat. “Novel Text Analysis Uses PageRank to Identify Influential Victorian Authors.” Wired, August 17, 2012.
Giles, Jim. Software Reveals the most Influential Victorian Novelists.” New Scientist, August 8, 2012.
Winger, Seth, “The Stanford Literary Lab.” Leland Quarterly, June 11, 2012.
Kofman, Nicole, “Recasting the humanities through ‘distant reading’.” Stanford Daily, November 28, 2011
Haven, Cynthia, “Stanford’s Digital Humanities: A conference that’s become cool.” Stanford Report, June 9, 2011
Nudo, Meredith, What are Your English Students Reading Right Now? Online Education Database, May 25th, 2011
Patricia Cohen, “Computing, Rather Than, Absorbing Novels.” New York Times, December 4, 2010
Maggie Beidelman, “Digitizing the Humanities.” Palo Alto Patch, December 2, 2010
Haven, Cynthia, “Non-consumptive research? Text mining? Welcome to the hotspot of humanities research at Stanford.” Stanford Report, December 1, 2010
Roque, Antonio.”Digital Humanities and Language Technology,” IEEE, Signal Processing Society Newsletter, July 2010
Interviewed by Sharon Bourbeau for the weekly radio program “College Connection”. My section of the broadcast begins at minute 8:16
“Text Mining” ReMix: News from the Stanford Libraries. July 15, 2010
“Stanford Students Use Digital Tools to Analyze Classic Texts.” The Human Experience: Inside the Humanities At Stanford. May 21, 2010
Parry, Marc. “Google Starts Grant Program for Studies of Its Digitized Books.” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 31, 2010.
Shea, Christopher. “The Geography of Irish-American Lit.” Boston Globe, Online Edition July 30, 2008.
“Matthew L. Jockers, a “digital humanities” expert at Stanford and a specialist in Irish-American literature, argues that scholars have been too East-coast-centric. . .”
Howard, Jennifer. “Literary Geospaces: Digital tools help put literature in its place.” Chronicle of Higher Education, Online Edition July 28. Print Edition August 1, 2008.
“Jockers’s project. . .uses Google Earth to plot where and when Irish-American literary activity took place across the United States. . .”
“Spotlight on the Digital Library,” Stanford Humanities Center Newsletter, 02/25/2008
“The. . .Beyond Search and Access Workshop is an interdisciplinary workshop pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the digital humanities today and collaborating to test some of these new tools and methodologies through new research.”
Stanford Magazine, Stanford University, March-April 2007.
“Jockers designs computer-based programs that allow him to probe and analyze large literary databases. . .”
Speaking of Computers, Stanford University, January 2007.
“Matthew Jockers (ATS for the English Department) and David Riggs (Professor of English) demonstrated a joint project, Visualizing the Bard, which was initially conceived as a note-taking experiment, but evolved into a dynamic Web application. . .”
Text Analysis Developers Alliance Blog, May 2005.
“Matthew Jockers has noticed a trend of meta-analysis in the recent works of Humanities Computing researchers that focuses on methodologies rather than results. . .”
Speaking of Computers, Stanford University, April 2005.
“During the winter term, English Department Academic Technology Specialist, Matthew Jockers, teamed up with English Professor Franco Moretti to offer a graduate course [that] explored various ways in which literary material can be quantified. . .”
Stanford Humanities Laboratory Report, June 2003.
“Jockers spoke about the process developed by the IAW project team to convert styled Microsoft Word files into Text-Encoding Initiative (TEI) compliant, well-formed, valid XML files. . .”
Speaking of Computers, Stanford University, April 2002.
“. . .his collaborations with faculty ranged in complexity from simple image scanning projects to the conversion of analog audio and video to streaming digital files. . .”