Hello! My name is Richard So. I'm an associate professor of English and Cultural Analytics at McGill University. I work at the intersection of cultural analysis and data science. Substantively, I use data-driven methods to study culture, both historical and contemporary, from the novel to Netflix to social media and writing platforms like Reddit and AO3. I have a particular topical interest in race, power, and inequality. Methodologically, I attempt to bring together humanist methods of interpretation, such as close reading, with new computational methods, such as machine learning and natural language processing. I also have a keen interest in reconciling critical race theory with digital methods.
I earned my BA at Brown University in English and Economics, and my PhD in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. I also have done formal training in statistics at the University of Michigan and natural language processing at the University of Washington. Prior to coming to McGill in 2018, I taught at the University of Chicago as an assistant professor. There, with Hoyt Long and Robert Morrissey, I helped to found their first digital humanities lab, the Textual Optics Lab. At McGill, I help run the McGill Text Lab with Andrew Piper.
My most recent book is Redlining Culture: A Data History of Racial Inequality and Postwar Fiction (Columbia UP 2020), a data-driven study of white supremacy in post-war US publishing and literature. I'm currently working on a new book that studies the impact of social media and user generated content on how we talk about race and tell stories about race, which combines cultural criticism and data science. I'm also writing a series of stand-alone, cultural analytics articles on computational narratology, Netflix and racial diversity, and Black Twitter.
I've published academic articles in Critical Inquiry, PMLA, boundary 2, Representations, Modern Language Quarterly, American Literary History, American Literature, and Journal of Cultural Analytics.
I sometimes write for the public, too. I've written on cultural analytics for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, and The New Republic, and my research has been featured in The London Review of Books, The New Yorker, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Chronicle of Higher Education. I'm also the current Digital Humanities editor for Public Books.