The Science of Sentimentality


Based on the available evidence, if you want to write one of the fifty most important novels in the next half-century, then by all means avoid sentimental language. But if you want to get published, sell books, be reviewed, win a prize or simply make someone happy, then emote away and just write a good novel. 

Over at The New Republic, two professors use sentimental analysis to uncover how sentimental vocabulary is used across various literary genres and historical periods—and whether it makes a difference in how seriously a work of fiction is taken. Their findings might just surprise you.

Stephanie Bento is a writer, classical cellist, and photographer living in Washington, DC. In her writing, she is interested in exploring the musicality of sound and form, and our connection to time and place. Find out more about her creative work at, or say hello/bonjour on Twitter @saudadebelle. More from this author →