Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis



Reader 1

Jacqueline Wernimont

Reader 2

Warren Liu

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Rights Information

© 2014 Caitlin E. Powell


This project examines the corpus of novels that have been nominated for the Man Booker Prize and, using the prize as a creator of a contemporary literary canon, attempts to develop a model of a contemporary best text. Using the distant reading techniques proposed by digital humanities scholar Franco Moretti to track and graph a variety of formal and structural variables across the corpus of nominees, it becomes apparent that the kind of novel that typically wins the Booker Prize and thus the kind of novel that qualifies as a contemporary best text fits a distinct mold. These novels are solemn, serious texts written by British or Irish men, and the stories they tell concern young British or Irish men struggling, often alone, in pain, and under the threat of impending age, through a brutal, violent, and amoral world.