Complexity Explorer Santa Few Institute

Foundations & Applications of Humanities Analytics (Spring 2023)

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6.1 Guest Lecture: Ricard Jean So » Test Your Knowledge: Explanations

Q1. Which of the following is not typical of a pandemic story, according to materials cited in the lecture?

A.   A plot beginning with the identification of an emerging infection.
B.  Discussion of the global networks through which an infection travels.

C.  A terse narrative detailing the development of a vaccine against the pandemic virus.
D.  Presentation of the pandemic as a ``spectral trauma'' lacking a distinct plot or clearly defined human agents.

Correct Answer: (C)   Options A and B are typical of pandemic narratives, according to Priscilla Wald. Option D is taken from Elizabeth Outka's description of the typical features of stories set during the outbreak of Spanish flu. This leaves Option C: the lecture does not discuss if vaccine development is typical of most pandemic narratives.

Q2. According to the lecture, which of the following is not true of the COVID stories posted on Wattpad?
A.  A majority explicitly concern the pandemic.
B.  A minority focus on more mundane, non-pandemic related topics.
C.  Many focus on communication topics relating to phones, screens, etc.

D.  Many are explicitly about the politics of the pandemic.

Correct Answer: (D).  The lecture does not discuss whether stories in the Wattpad corpus focus on the politics of the pandemic. By contrast, the lecture explicitly states that Options A and B are true of the Wattpad corpus, i.e., that 57% of Wattpad COVID stories explicitly concern the pandemic, while the rest (43%) do not. The lecture also explicitly states that Option C is true of the corpus, i.e. that communication topics are popular, especially among the more mundane COVID stories.

Q3. Which of the following accurately describes how Richard Jean So measures the "fabula" of a COVID story, the extent to which it is about COVID?

A. He uses a binary variable to indicate whether a given story is above a certain threshold of containing words from COVID-centric topics. 
B. He determines whether a story has a fully-connected network of characters. 
C. He measures the extent to which stories trade off between containing words from COVID-centric topics and having a fully-connected network of characters.
D. He compares the average length of stories that contain some words from COVID-centric topics (i.e. are "moderately about" COVID) to the average length stories with many words from COVID-centric topics (i.e. "very much about" COVID).

Correct Answer (A). Option B is incorrect because it describes So's technique for measuring sujet, rather than fabula. Option C describes So's final analysis, but this is broader than his specific treatment of fabula. Option D is invented, and would not be a good way of measuring fabula because the degree to which a story is about COVID does not depend directly on the length of that story. This leaves Option A as the correct answer; see also Lecture Overview: Key terms to keep in mind