PEOPLE HEAR THE TITLE FIRST:

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PEOPLE HEAR THE
TITLE

FIRST:

A Mixed
-
Method Study of the
Cultural Place of Science Fiction
Across Media, Genres, and Decades

ERIC S. RABKIN

Associate Provost for Online Education

Stony Brook University


RAINER HILSCHER

Epidemiology

Univ

of Michigan


06 Sep 2013

1

Hypothesis

2

Science Fiction, even viewed only by its titles,
serves cultural roles that vary systematically
across media, genres, and decades.

Hypothesis

3

Science Fiction, even viewed only by its titles,
serves cultural roles that vary systematically
across media, genres, and decades.

Corollary 1: Culture

can be understood as a complex
adaptive system.

Corollary 2: Science Fiction is a useful test case for
cultural analysis.

Corollary 3: Cultural analysis can gain from the study
of titling patterns.

Hypothesis

4

Science Fiction, even viewed only by its titles,
serves cultural roles that vary systematically
across media, genres, and decades.

Step 1:
S
tudy of SF short stories and
TIME Magazine

Step 2: Study of titling patterns for works of fiction

Corollary 1: Culture

can be understood as a complex
adaptive system.

Corollary 2: Science Fiction is a useful test case for
cultural analysis.

Corollary 3: Cultural analysis can gain from the study
of titling patterns.

Relations of Fiction and Non
-
Fiction

5

Why Science Fiction?

6

http://
www.umich.edu
/~
genreevo

TIME Magazine Cover Subjects 1935
-
1955

7

% Heroism Themes in 20
th

C. American SF Stories

8

TIME Magazine Cover Subjects 1920
-
1940

9

SF Short Story Title
-
Word Cloud

10

Zachary C. Wright, 2010, using GEP data on
wordle.net

Titles …

1) Label

2) Engage

Prospectively

Retrospectively

3) Categorize

11

Comparability of Short Story Data Sets

12

Normalizing Algorithm

13

1.
Download and read ISFDB, IMDB, and GEP databases into a common database coding
for titles, time period, genre, and medium in order to generate title
-
word frequency
lists with a cut
-
off of top twenty. (Non
-
English words, which were few, were excluded
via a list produced by inspection and filtering with a regular expression.)

2.
Merge words that form a logical unit (e.g., “Flash Gordon”) that should not be
counted individually.

3.
Tokenize title words using the
Python NLTK
package.

4.
Apply two regular expressions, one to identify words that contain only English letters
and are at least two letters long and one to identify references to years (shown by
inspection to be, in practice, all instances of four
-
digit numbers).

5.
Filter with a stop list words of low discriminatory power in this context (e.g., articles
and pronouns).

6.
Filter with a custom
-
made stop list generated by inspection (e.g., some foreign words
such as “du,” “en,” and “
il
”).

7.
Custom lemmatize (a) to supplement omissions in NTLK’s
lemmatizer

and (b) to
create
hypernyms

(e.g. “girl” and “woman” subsumed under “girl
-
woman”).

8.
Check for titles with the same word used at least twice, returning “n
-
occurences
” and
a single token for that word in that title.

Final set of processed title words were output to Excel for further analysis.

SF Story Title
-
Word Frequencies Across Datasets

14

Comparisons of Medium and Genre

15

SF Title
-
Word Frequencies Across Media

16

SF Title Words in Stories and Movies

17

Movie Title
-
Word Frequencies Across Genres (I)

18

Movie Title
-
Word Frequencies Across Genres (II)

19

Longitudinal Analysis

20

SF Story Title
-
Word Frequencies By Decade

21

Mars
-
Titled Novels (1952)

22

Most Popular Mars
-
Titled Films of the 1950s

23

IMDB “Mars” collocations by genre

24

Eyes of

Laura
Mars

25

Laura Mars (Faye Dunaway) is a glamorous fashion
photographer who specializes in stylized violence. Amid
controversy over whether her photographs glorify violence
and are demeaning to women, Laura begins seeing, in first
person through the eyes of the killer, real
-
time visions of the
murders of her friends and colleagues.

John Neville (Tommy Lee Jones), the lieutenant in charge of
the case, shows Laura unpublished police photographs of
unsolved murders that very closely mirror Laura's fashion
shoots. Laura's visions continue, including visions of the
killer stalking her and continuing to murder those around
her. Meanwhile, Laura and Neville fall in love. The murders
continue as Laura's various colleagues, acquaintances and
past romantic interests come in and out of focus as
potential suspects or victims, until a final confrontation
between Laura and the killer occurs.

At her apartment, Laura is affected by one last vision of the
killer, who has now come for her. The killer attempts to
break in through her front door, but Laura deadbolts it
before he/she can enter. Upon hearing her distress, Neville
(who had been on his way to meet her) breaks through her
balcony window. He proceeds to tell Laura they have caught
the killer, a troubled colleague of hers named Tommy, and
begins an elaborate explanation of Tommy's motivations
and back story. Knowing Tommy well, Laura recognizes this
as a lie and that Neville himself is the killer. As Neville
details more of his own story, it is implied that he may have
multiple personalities. Because of this, and his love for her,
he cannot bring himself to murder her and instead asks that
she end his life. She shoots him dead, calling the police as
we close in on her eyes
--

the eyes of Laura
Mars.



Wikipedia

(May 11, 2013)

Eyes of

Laura
Mars

26

Laura Mars (Faye Dunaway) is a glamorous
fashion

photographer

who specializes in
stylized

violence. Amid
controversy over whether her
photographs

glorify violence
and are demeaning to women, Laura begins
seeing
, in first
person through the
eyes

of the killer, real
-
time
visions

of the
murders of her friends and colleagues.

John Neville (Tommy Lee Jones), the lieutenant in charge of
the case,
shows

Laura
unpublished

police
photographs

of
unsolved murders
that very closely
mirror

Laura's fashion
shoots
. Laura's
visions

continue, including
visions

of the
killer stalking her and continuing to murder those around
her. Meanwhile, Laura and Neville fall in love. The murders
continue as Laura's various colleagues, acquaintances and
past romantic interests come in and out of
focus

as
potential suspects or victims, until a final
confrontation

between Laura and the killer occurs.

At her apartment, Laura is affected by one last
vision

of the
killer, who has now come for her. The killer attempts to
break in through her front door, but Laura
dead
bolts it
before he/she can enter. Upon hearing her distress, Neville
(who had been on his way to meet her)
breaks through her
balcony window
. He proceeds to tell Laura they have caught
the killer, a troubled colleague of hers named Tommy, and
begins an elaborate explanation of Tommy's motivations
and back story. Knowing Tommy well, Laura
recognizes

this
as a lie and that Neville himself is the killer. As Neville
details more of his own story, it is implied that he may have
multiple personalities. Because of this, and his love for her,
he cannot bring himself to murder her and instead asks that
she end his life. She
shoots

him dead, calling the police as
we close in on her
eyes

--

the
eyes

of Laura
Mars.



Wikipedia

(May 11, 2013)

Laura Mars



French
poster

27

PEOPLE HEAR THE
TITLE

FIRST

28

Abstract

29

People Hear the Title First:

A Mixed
-
Method Study of the Cultural Place of Science Fiction Across
Media, Genres, and Decades


Michigan Complexity Mini
-
Conference

13 May 2013


Eric S. Rabkin, English Language & Literature and Art & Design,
University of Michigan

Rainer
Hilscher
, Epidemiology, University of Michigan