AMICUS: Automated Motif Discovery in Cultural Heritage and Scientific Communication Texts
AMICUS: Automated Motif Discovery in Cultural Heritage and Scientific Communication Texts
The AMICUS network

The AMICUS network devotes itself to building a research commity on the topic of computational models of motifs in cultural heritage text and in scientific communication. We chart available corpora such as annotated folk tale collections, identify directions of research, and organize events around these topics.

In folk tale research the notion of motif is quite central, as it is a means to explain certain cross-cultural, cross-linguistic, diachronic constancies in folk tales. Motifs are complex higher-level patterns that recur in a non-accidental way; they contribute crucially to the function of the story (Propp, 1928), and have evolved over time, gaining cultural significance along a long path of oral and written transmission and canonization.

Cultural heritage objects can often be characterized by the motifs they contain, and a considerable amount of research on these objects takes into account this important aspect. Their role in document classification and retrieval is largely unexplored, however. The AMICUS network sets out to test a possible way to solve this problem, starting with the identification of Proppian functions in folk tale corpora and adapting the solution to the identification of tale motifs or their functional equivalents.

AMICUS has devoted its first project year to listing the corpora, tools, methods and contacts available to address the above problem. Collaboration in the AMICUS research network takes place in two ways, by regular exchange through virtual communication platforms, and by reporting and discussing our findings at a series of three workshops, structured according to major themes. Workshop I (October 21, 2010, Vienna, Austria) provided an international overview of relevant methods in text analytics and semantic annotation; Workshop II (2011) will address test results by specific tools for text analytics; Workshop III (2012) will focus on the interplay between community-specific user perception of content-bearing elements.


  • Prof. dr. Antal van den Bosch (Tilburg Centre of Creative Computing, Tilburg, The Netherlands) and dr. Piroska Lendvai (research associate, currently HASRIL, Hungary)
  • Prof. dr. Ted J.M. Sanders and drs. Anita de Waard (Discourse representation and processing group, Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS, Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University, NL)
  • dr. Sándor Darányi (Digital Humanities Research Group, Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University of Gothenburg/University of Borås, Sweden)
  • dr. László Z. Karvalics and dr. Zsuzsanna Szvetelszky (Department of Library and Information Science at the University of Szeged, Hungary)


The Second AMICUS Workshop is held on Thursday 20 October, 2011, in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Registration is free; please send an email to Mariëlle Oor, before October 18.

Vacancies for two Ph.D. students, a post-doc researcher, and a scientific programmer at the e-Laboratory Oral Culture of the Meertens Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Ph.D. project on motif recognition, Ph.D. project on folktale classification and clustering, post-doc project on automatic annotation and summarization of folktales, programming project on folktale search and visualization

Call for papers: International Workshop on Computational Models of Narrative, May 20-22, 2012, Istanbul, Turkey. Paper deadline: Friday, February 24, 2012. Organized by Mark Finlayson, Pablo Gervas, Denis Yuret, and Floris Bex.

The AMICUS Workshop which was planned to take place as a one-day event at IC-ININFO 2011 in Kos is canceled. We are grateful to the submittors of papers and are in the process of organizing an AMICUS event in 2011 that will make up for the lost opportunity.

AMICUS in the spotlight in the CLARIN Newsletter no. 11-12 (April 2011): check out pages 7-8 for Piroska Lendvai and Thierry Declerck's article The CLARIN Folk Tale Use Case at DH-2010 and Elsewhere

On November 11-13, 2010, The AAAI 2010 Fall Symposium on Computational Models of Narrative took place in Arlington, VA, with keynote speaker Roger Schank and, as special gues, professional storyteller Loren Niemi. Organizers were Mark Finlayson and Pablo Gervás.

At the beginning of July, Piroska Lendvai and Thierry Declerck (DFKI) presented the latest CLARIN/D-SPIN and AMICUS related work at the DH 2010 conference in London (the paper is downloadable via this link.) Just after the poster presentation an interview has been conducted, which is available online.

Workshop Series

The first AMICUS workshop (see pictures) was held in Vienna, Austria, October 21, 2010, as a satellite event of the joint CLARIN/DARIAH conference, SDH-2010. The proceedings, edited by Sándor Darányi and Piroska Lendvai, are online (offering links to PDFs of papers and presentations).


The AMICUS network is sponsored by a grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, NWO Humanities, as part of the Internationalization in the Humanities programme. Funding was granted in 2009, and extends to 2012.


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