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Chris Forstall
Graduate Student in Classics
Chris Forstall

Chris Forstall
Research interests: Intertext,
Oral Formulaic Composition
Institutional affiliation: University at Buffalo
Departmental affiliation: Classics Department
Office location:
Membership status: Student member
Digital projects: Becoming Poetics: an online journal
Textual analysis


I've spent time in both the sciences and the humanities. My primary interest is in what makes human beings produce poetry. I like to use text-processing tools like perl, sed and awk to solve problems, but I also have some experience with GIS and remote sensing.

My free time is spent reading Lawrence Durrell and Flann O'Brien, caring for goats and chickens, and otherwise in general indolence.

Digital interests

My broad interest is in using computers to investigate intertextual patterns in poetry, particularly Classical Latin and Greek poetry.

Currently I'm working with Dr. Walter Scheirer of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to apply the tools of authorship attribution to Latin poetry. We examine patterns in bi-gram frequencies, noting variation by metrical form as well as by author.

I also work on the Tesserae Project, led by Dr. Neil Coffee, a search engine designed to locate allusion in Latin poetry.

My long-term project is an examination of the Homeric epos using authorship attribution methods. I've compared the Iliad to the Odyssey using a feature sets composed of n-grams at the phoneme level and classification with machine learning techniques. I'd like to look more closely at each poem to try to pick apart intrapoem heterogeneity. My goal is to be able to tie quantifiable observations to current oral-formulaic theory (particularly theory from a cognitive angle).

Recent Work

Forstall, C. and W. Scheirer, “A Statistical Stylistic Study of Latin Elegiac Couplets.” Poster presented at the Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science, Nov. 21–22, 2010. View abstract

Forstall, C., S. Jacobson, and W. Schierer, “Evidence of Intertextuality: Investigating Paul the Deacon's Angustae Vitae.” Poster presented at Digital Humanities 2010, King's College London, UK, July 7–10, 2010. View abstract

Forstall, C. and W. Scheirer, “Features from Frequency: Authorship and Stylistic Analysis Using Repetitive Sound,” in Proc. of the Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science, Nov. 2009. View abstract/full text

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