Writing, Creativity and Keystroke Data

May 2, 2024

Date and time

Friday, May 17 · 5 – 6:30pm GMT+1


Institute for Medical Humanities • Confluence Building • Durham UniversityStockton Road Confluence Building Durham DH1 3LE

In this Passport Talk, Lamyk Bekius presents her talk titled, ‘Nanogenesis: Gaining insight into the digital literary writing process through keystroke logging data’.

The advent of home computers in the 1980s, and literary authors using them to write their novels and stories, poses numerous challenges to the study of the literary writing process (genetic criticism), since the digital writing environment hides the writing actions by default.

Along with these challenges, however, the digital writing environment also presents opportunities for the field of genetic criticism. This talk introduces the use of keystroke logging software not only as a solution to the challenges posed by the shift to a digital writing environment, but also as an enabler of gaining new knowledge about the genesis of texts and the creative process. When the keystroke logger is activated by the writer, every keystroke and mouse movement is logged along with a timestamp. The resulting keystroke data allows text genetic analyses to be enriched with insights and models from cognitive writing process research.

The focus of this talk is on how the temporal dimension of writing – as captured in keystroke data – enables a new kind of what I have termed ‘nanogenetic’ research. The nanogenesis entails the possibility to trace the movement of authors through the text, which can lead to a better understanding of, among other things, the aspect of discovery in writing, and triggers of new text production and revision.

About the speaker:

Lamyk Bekius is a postdoctoral researcher and the University of Antwerp’s coordinator of the CLARIAH-VL Open Humanities Service Infrastructure project. Her PhD-thesis Behind the computer screens: The use of keystroke logging for genetic criticism applied to born-digital works of literature (2023) earned her a joint doctorate from the University of Amsterdam and the University of Antwerp. Her research focuses on genetic criticism, genetic narratology, digital humanities, born-digital literary archives, and keystroke logging.

This hybrid event is brought to you by the Narrative and Cognition Lab in the Discovery Research Platform for Medical Humanities. If you have any queries about the event or the work of the Narrative and Cognition Lab, please contact Marco Bernini.

Zoom details for online attendees will be circulated 24 hours before the start of the event.

This event is free to attend.

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