You are here

John Laudun

Professor of English

M.A., Syracuse, 1989
Ph.D., Indiana University, 1999

Office: Griffin 356
Phone: 337-482-5493
E-mail: laudun AT

Pronouns: he/him/his

Teaching and Research Areas

Culture analytics, text mining, narrative studies, computational folkloristics, creativity studies


John Laudun received his MA in literary studies from Syracuse University in 1989 and his PhD in folklore studies from the Folklore Institute at Indiana University in 1999. He was a Jacob K. Javits Fellow while at Syracuse and Indiana (1987-1992), and a MacArthur Scholar at the Indiana Center for Global Change and World Peace (1993-94). He has written grants that have been funded by the Grammy Foundation and the Louisiana Board of Regents, been a fellow with the EVIA Digital Archive and a scholar in residence with UCLA's Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics. His book, The Amazing Crawfish Boat, is a longitudinal ethnographic study of creativity and tradition within a material folk culture domain.

Current Research

Laudun's current work is in the realm of culture analytics. He is currently engaged in several collaborations with physicists and other scientists seeking to understand how texts can be modeled computationally in order to better describe functions and features.

Recent Publications

2015. Text Statistics with Python. Programming Historian (
2014. Counting Tales: Towards a Computational Approach to Folk Narrative. Folk Culture Forum 5/228: 20-35. Translator (to Chinese): An Deming.

2013. With Jonathan Goodwin. Computing Folklore Studies: Mapping over a Century of Scholarly Production through Topics. Journal of American Folklore 126(502):455–475.

2012. "Talking Shit" in Rayne: How Aesthetic Features Reveal Ethical Structures. Journal of American Folklore 125(497):304–326.

2011. A Constellation of Stars: The Study of Creativity on a Human Scale, or How a Bunch of Cajun and German Farmers and Fabricators in Louisiana Invented a Traditional Amphibious Boat. In The Individual in Tradition. Eds. Ray Cashman, Tom Mould, Pravina Shukla. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Courses Taught

ENGL 115: Freshman Honors Academic Writing
ENGL 332: Introduction to Folklore
ENGL 335: Louisiana Folklore
ENGL 365: Technical Writing
ENGL 482: Stories and Storytelling
ENGL 531: Folklore in Culture: Narrative Studies
ENGL 632: Proseminar in Folklore Theory

Recent Presentations

2015. Counting Tales: A Computational Approach to Fairy Tale Study. At the Crossroads of Data and Wonder Symposium. Brigham Young University (Provost, UT).

2015. The Shape of Legends: Towards an Algorithmic/Augmented Analysis of Folk Narrative. International Society for Contemporary Legend Research. (San Antonio, TX.)

2015. The Story of a Pirate in a Tree: Using Network Analysis to Find Treasure. Modern Language Association (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada).

2014. The Vernacular in Architecture and What It Means for the Future. Vernacular Inventions, Center for Louisiana Studies (Lafayette, LA).

2014. With Jonathan Goodwin. Mapping Networks in Service of Intellectual History: How Topic Models and Co-Citation Networks Describe a Paradigm Shift in a Humanities Discipline. Texas Digital Humanities Conference (Houston, Texas).

2014. Using Topic Models and Morphologies to Understand Folk Narrative. Modern Language Association (Chicago, Illinois).

2014. The Matter of Mardi Gras: How Local Festivals Gather and Disperse Materiel across a Landscape. The Mathers Museum, Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana).

Selected Media Appearances

2013. "Louisiana’s Melting Pot." The Sunday Advertiser (July 7): 1A, 8A-9A.

2012. "A Living, Breathing Dish." The Daily Advertiser (September 26).

2008. Louisiana Story: The Reverse Angle. Louisiana Public Broadcasting.

2008. "Friday is Gumbo Day in New Orleans," Philadelphia Inquirer (February 6).

2008. A History of Gumbo. The Southern Gumbo Trail. Southern Foodways Project, University of Mississippi. (

2004. "At Home with a Master," La Louisiane (Autumn): 22-25.

2004. "Roasting a Pig Inside an Enigma," New York Times (January 7).