A statistical analysis of editorial influence and author-character similarities in 1990s New Yorker fiction

Katherine L. Milkman, René Carmona, William Gleason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present a quantitative analysis of 442 pieces of fiction published between 5 October 1992 and 17 September 2001 in the New Yorker magazine. We address two independent questions using the same data set. First, we examine whether changes in the Executive Editor or Fiction Editor are associated with significant changes in the type of fiction published at the New Yorker. Second, we examine whether New Yorker authors write fiction more often than not about characters with whom they share demographic traits. We find that changes in Fiction Editor at the New Yorker are associated with numerous significant, quantifiable changes in the magazine's fiction and that these effects are greater than those associated with a change in the New Yorker's Executive Editor. We also find that authors of New Yorker fiction write significantly more often than not about protagonists who share their race, gender, and country of origin and who are within or below their age range. The same is true of secondary characters except in the case of gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-328
Number of pages24
JournalLiterary and Linguistic Computing
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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