The Riddle of Literary Quality

The search for conventions of literariness

In 2014, the editors of the Utrecht journal for literary studies Vooys:asked project leader Karina van Dalen-Oskam for a short article about the background of the project The Riddle of Literary Quality.. The editors of Vooys gave permission to post an English translation of this article on the Riddle blog. The original publication is titled ‘The Riddle of Literary Quality. Op zoek naar conventies van literariteit’ and was published in: Vooys: tijdschrift voor letteren 32 (2014), 3, p. 25-33.


There was quite a stir when the launch of the project ‘The Riddle of Literary Quality’ was announced, on 7 July 2011. The aim of this research project is to investigate literary quality using digital methods. Discussions arose between various linguistic and literary specialists, and the usual criticisms were voiced. In spite of all this we remain as curious as ever about this project. The research has been underway for more than eighteen months, and the first results are starting to emerge. The editor of Vooys asked Karina van Dalen-Oskam, research director of the much-discussed project, to comment on the organisation, background and first results of ‘The Riddle’.

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