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Examining the Thomas Paine Corpus: Automated Computer Authorship Attribution Methodology Applied to Thomas Paine’s Writings

  • Gary Berton
  • Smiljana Petrovic
  • Lubomir Ivanov
  • Robert Schiaffino

Abstract

Thomas Paine was one of the most widely read and influential writers in the era of Democratic Revolutions in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He was a philosopher and a political leader who affected the course of the great revolutions in America and France, and whose writings still have relevance in modern politics. It is important to clarify the body of work that Paine produced. There has been speculation as to what actually were his writings, what has been left out of collections, and what has been mistakenly added to his works. For example, Philip Foner in his once authoritative Complete Writings of Thomas Paine, includes “An Occasional Letter on the Female Sex” and remarks, “Although there is evidence to prove that this article … was not written by Paine … it has been included in the present edition” because it may represent the sentiments of Paine.1 “African Slavery in America” was left out of Eric Foner’s Thomas Paine: Collected Writings, indicating some doubt to the attribution to Paine.2 Until an accurate collected works can be established, the scholarship on Paine will remain incomplete, and the public and academia will continue to misattribute quotes and opinions to Paine without historical support. The goal of our text analysis project is to address this deficiency.

Keywords

Function Word Sentence Length Stylistic Feature Lexical Feature Interest Subject 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Thomas Paine, The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine, ed. Philip Foner (New York: Citadel Press, 1969), 2: 34.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Thomas Paine, Thomas Paine: Collected Writings, ed. Eric Foner (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1995).Google Scholar
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    Thomas Paine, The Writings of Thomas Paine, ed. Charles R. and George Webster (Albany, NY: Webster, 1792). Thomas Paine, The Works of Thomas Paine, ed. J. Jordan (London: J. Jordan, 1792).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Gary Berton, Smiljana Petrovic, Lubomir Ivanov and Robert Schiaffino 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Berton
  • Smiljana Petrovic
  • Lubomir Ivanov
  • Robert Schiaffino

There are no affiliations available

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