Text mining, Hermione Granger, and fan fiction: What's in a name?


  • Rebecca Rowe University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Brownsville, Texas, United States
  • Tolonda Henderson University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, United States
  • Tianyu Wang University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, United States




Digital humanities, Fan fiction characters, Harry Potter, Word2Vec


When fans rewrite characters, how do they engage that character's identity and the social constructions around it? Fan fiction writers resist, replicate, and create oppressive social systems by changing characters between published and fan texts. As such, fan studies scholars have long been interested in how fans construct characters, an interest that has often been paired with readings of race, gender, and sexuality. Digital humanities can help confirm and nuance extant fan studies scholarship around specific characters popular in fan fiction. We used Word2Vec software to mine the text of 450 pieces of fan fiction based on J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. By focusing on the depiction of Hermione Granger in both Rowling's novels and Harry Potter fan fiction, we tested how text mining character names can reveal properties closely tied to a specific character through the relationships between the target name and other characters. Analysis via Word2Vec found that "Hermione" is used grammatically and contextually differently in the books (in which she is most like Harry and Ron) than in our fan fiction corpus (in which she is most like other girls/women). This difference suggests that these fans have a specific reading of Hermione that is communally understood even if Rowling's diction offers a different reading.