Symposium on the Science of Stories




Where: Burlington, Vermont USA
When: October 15-17, 2018


There is no reason why the simple shapes of stories can’t be fed into computers. They are beautiful shapes.” - Kurt Vonnegut

Our aim is to define the new science of stories. We will bring together a diverse cohort of faculty from the arts and sciences to collaboratively analyze and quantify Storions (units of story) and observe how they move and change over time and space. Why? Because stories touch every part of our life, they shape the way we view the world, and most importantly because they make for blatantly fun research!

During this intensive short course, we will explore the nature of narratives, how to extract them from data, how they move and change through time and space, and how to preserve them through communication. We will also explore how to effectively communicate data-rich narratives to the public and how to tell a story using data and sound visualizations. In this course, we will introduce participants to methods, tools, and theory at the forefront of complex systems science, cognitive science, sentiment analysis, network theory, information theory, digital humanities, literature, data visualization, and data analytics. 

Our professional education programs bring together a diverse network of academics, business professionals, innovators, investors, government and health practitioners, regulators, and educators. Our programs challenge participants to think about global issues from a new perspective, to expand their network beyond their field, and seek solutions to real world data-rich problems. No background in science or mathematics is required. We aim for this course to be an intimate experience, space xis very limited and is available first-come-first-served.


  • Symposium Faculty
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      Information flow on networks

      Jim Bagrow - University of Vermont Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Assistant Professor
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      Data visualizations using sound

      Jenny Bower - Keyboardist + Data Scientist


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      Narrative and Emotion: Insights from the Telephone Game

      Fritz Breithaupt
      - Provost Professor, Germanic Studies & Cognitive Science, Indiana University, Bloomington
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      The science of stories and sentiment analysis

      Chris Danforth -
      University of Vermont, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Flint Professor of Mathematical, Natural, and Technical Sciences.
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      Introduction to the Science of Stories

      Peter Dodds - Director, Vermont Complex Systems Center
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      RoboPoems: Poetry-inflected robots

      Tina Escaja
      - Professor of Spanish, Department of Romance languages and Linguistics, UVM

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      How cognition drives cultural evolution

      Vanessa Ferdinand
      - Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow, Santa Fe Institute
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      Communicating Complex Data to the Public

      Mirta Galesic -
      Cowan Chair in Human Social Dynamics at the Santa Fe Institute and Associate Researcher at the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany
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      Towards Understanding Narratives with Artificial Intelligence

      Mohit Iyyer -
      Assistant professor in Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
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      Empathy and Social Connection in Story

      Sylvia Morelli
      - Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Director of the Empathy and Social Connection Lab.
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      Folklore and Cultural Analytics

      Timothy Tangherlini
      - Professor, The Scandinavian Section and Dept. of Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA
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      Social listening is dead. Long live social listening!

      Kyle Shank -Manager, Advanced Media Analytics The Hershey Company


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    Additions to speaker list coming soon!


  • About Burlington
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    About Burlington:

    Burlington Vermont is a world-renowned tourist destination, the symposium is located in the state’s largest city on beautiful Lake Champlain.

    With views across the lake to the Adirondacks in the west and the Green Mountains in the east, Burlington is a locus of year-round outdoor activities, and a vibrant local food and small farm movement.

    Activities such as hiking, biking (the Colchester Causeway, stretching nearly four miles out into Lake Champlain toward the islands north of Burlington is very rewarding), kayaking, and touring the countryside and the many nearby mountains (Stowe and the Von Trapp Family Lodge are just 45 minutes away, the magical Northeast Kingdom just a little further) are all great local activities. The magnificent Shelburne Farms estate and the remarkable Shelburne Museum would make for wonderful excursions in days adjacent to the symposium.

    Burlington and the surrounding area are also home to many craft beer and hard cider breweries including Magic Hat, Switchback Brewery, and Citizen Cider, just to name a few.
  • Contact

    For any additional information, please contact:

    Juniper L. Lovato
    Director of Outreach for Complex Systems
    The Vermont Complex Systems Center
    juniper.lovato@uvm.edu