This weekend I’ll be giving another virtual presentation, this time at New England Moot, talking about some food-themed text analysis on Lord of the Rings.

My last New England Moot was in 2019. I attended in person and gave the talk that kicked off my collaboration with Elise Trudel Cedeño and which became the three guest blog posts on her blog (starting here).

I had hoped to make it back to the United States in time to attend New England Moot in person again but alas, like Mythmoot this year, it is to be virtual for me.

The theme of the moot is “Second Breakfast” and I thought I’d take it literally to mean the second instance of the token “breakfast” and give a whole talk about text analysis on Lord of the Rings using food-related questions.

Here’s the abstract for my talk:

How many times is “breakfast” mentioned in the Lord of the Rings? Who talks about breakfast the most? What about other meals? What food is mentioned the most?

This talk will be a lighthearted and gentle introduction to the sort of text analysis the Digital Tolkien Project is working on, using as examples food-related terms in the Lord of the Rings.

We will look at issues with text preparation, tokenization, and lemmatization; dealing with dialogue and speaker identification; and how semantic networks can help us find all the words relating to food, meals, and eating.

We will also look at adjectives used to describe meals. Which meals were “splendid” and which were “comfortless”? Did the hobbits actually have a second breakfast in the main text? Did they have a second meal of another kind (and, if so, where?)

Finally we will look at ways of visualizing the results to get a better at-a-glance look at food, meals, and eating in the Lord of the Rings.

I’ll probably post some of the charts from the talk on Instagram and maybe do another post here at some point with some of the results.