Exploring the features of naturalist prose using LIWC in Nederlab


  • Floor Naber
  • Peter Boot


LIWC, literary movements / literaire bewegingen, Naturalism / naturalisme, computational literary studies / computationele literaire studies, text classification / classificatie van teksten, Nederlab


Naturalism is one of the best-studied literary movements in (Dutch) literary history. Ton Anbeek formulated in 1982 eight characteristics of Dutch naturalist fiction. Working within the digital library environment Nederlab, we test these characteristics by applying LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count) to a corpus of naturalist fiction and a reference corpus of other fiction from the same period. We confirm some of Anbeek’s claims (naturalist novels are about nervous characters experiencing a process of disenchantment), fail to confirm some (we find no evidence for the role of determinism), and cannot test some others (e.g. the naturalist author despises bourgeois society). We do find some new ‘negative’ characteristics of Dutch Naturalism: subjects that occur significantly less in naturalist than in non-naturalist texts. Among these are words related to work, achievement and money. These findings intuitively fit with our idea of a naturalist character but require further study.


How to Cite

Naber, F., & Boot, P. (2019). Exploring the features of naturalist prose using LIWC in Nederlab. Journal of Dutch Literature, 10(1). Retrieved from https://journalofdutchliterature.org/index.php/jdl/article/view/183