-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [Milton-L] PARTICIPATION IN STUDY REQUESTED
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2005 17:04:06 -0800 (PST)
From: J Gottschall <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: John Milton Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Dear Colleagues:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns =
We would like to invite anyone who is interested in British novels of
the longer nineteenth century to participate in a collective research
project.We are a research team consisting of two literary scholars and
two psychologists (Joe Carroll, Jon Gottschall, John Johnson, and Dan
Kruger).We have put together a website questionnaire on about 2,100
characters from 202 novels—from Austen through Forster.
Here is the website address:
The novels are listed by author’s name, in alphabetical order, and under
the title of each novel we have listed a selection of characters—an
average of about ten characters per novel.Participants can fill out
questionnaires on as few or as many characters in as few or as many
novels as they choose.Filling out a questionnaire on a single character
usually takes less than five minutes.All participation is
anonymous.Please feel free to distribute this URL to students, friends,
The questionnaire contains questions on each character’s motives,
personality, and agonistic status (protagonist/antagonist), on the
criteria the character uses for selecting a spouse or romantic partner,
and on your emotional response to the character.
The last ten questions on the questionnaire are designed to assess each
character on five major factors of personality: Extraversion,
Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Openness to
Experience.After you have filled out a questionnaire on a character, the
program will provide a graph that displays the results of your coding on
those five factors.
We have not set an ending date for the study.We are opening the website
in January of 2005, and we anticipate that it will be open for at least
a year.Once we have completed the study, we shall share our findings
with anyone who asks for them.In the meantime, on the questionnaire
itself we shall provide a link to a page on which we shall post the
average results on all questions for all the characters in the study,
and we shall periodically update these averages.
This study is a type of "census" of vital statistics about the
population of "Victorian" literary characters—the first of its kind.
The "census-taker" is you, the individual coder sitting at his or her
computer. Anyone who Anyone over is over 18 and who has read a
Victorian novel is qualified to participate.
We want to gather information that will allow us systematically to
answer questions like the following: What features of characterization
do males, females, antagonists, protagonists, and other character types
tend to share? What exactly makes them different? Do these features
change much as we cross historical boundaries?How do these features vary
by sex of author? How about by sex or age of the interpreter? What can
consistent differences between protagonists and antagonists tell us
about the moral universe that gave birth to the novels? Do people
generally agree about interpretation of character? Or are there large
individual differences? Can we do a better job of answering certain
literary questions by systematically gathering data about reader
response? And, conversely, can literary works be mined as rich sources
of data for formal psychological studies?
These are just some of the important questions we hope to address in our
study. But we can't do it without your help. Thank you in advance for
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