Yocum (Christopher Guy)

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Stifter, David, Nina Cnockaert-Guillou, Beatrix Färber, Deborah Hayden, Máire Ní Mhaonaigh, Joanna Tucker, and Christopher Guy Yocum, Developing a digital framework for the medieval Gaelic world: project report, Online: Irish Research Council – Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2022. PDF. URL: <>.
Yocum, Christopher Guy, “Text clustering and methods in the Book of Leinster”, in: Elliott Lash, Fangzhe Qiu, and David Stifter (eds), Morphosyntactic variation in medieval Celtic languages: corpus-based approaches, 346, Berlin, Online: De Gruyter Mouton, 2020. 85–112.  
For a list of texts, see

Most investigations of the Book of Leinster (hereafter LL) have used close reading, historical, and philological techniques to identify authors within LL (for instance, see Mac Gearailt 1993; Bhreathnach 2002; Mac Gearailt 1997–1998; Ó Lochlainn 1941–1942; Ó Lochlainn 1943–1944; Mac Eoin 1982: 113–114). While this has met with some success, the methods used are by their nature idiosyncratic and prone to individual scholarly opinion. One notable exception is Derick Thomson’s paper The Poetry of Niall MacMhuirich which attempts to use statistical methods to attribute authorship of poems to Niall MacMhuirich (Thomson 1970). This paper will use methods of anonymous authorship attribution, which has been developed within the discipline of machine learning and statistical analysis to accomplish two goals: first, to demonstrate the means and methods of unsupervised machine learning techniques in early Irish literature and second, to discuss the implications of the application of this methodology to LL with a view towards a larger research project.

The paper will proceed in four stages. First, some scholarly literature concerning LL is reviewed. Second, the methods of data gathering, along with certain related problems, as well as the algorithms used in the analysis are commented upon. Third, the outcome of the analysis is summarised. Fourth, the paper concludes with an examination of the contribution the analysis makes to the debate surrounding the authorship of LL

Yocum, Christopher Guy, “Wisdom literature in early Ireland”, Studia Celtica 46 (2012): 39–58.  
This article explores connections between early Irish law and wisdom literature and the international context of such literature in Europe and the Near East. Insights from Old Testament studies – particularly the wisdom literature of the Old Testament – are combined with analysis from wisdom literature of medieval Europe and medieval Ireland. This is to forge a view of wisdom literature and the wisdom figures representing it.
Yocum, Christopher Guy, “The literary figure of Fíthal”, Ph.D. thesis, Edinburgh University, 2009.  
This thesis explores the literary figure of the mythical early Irish judge, Fíthal, from the earliest literary reference to him, c. 800, until MacPherson’s Ossian of the mid-eighteenth century. It does so by close study of the texts within which Fíthal appears, with close attention to their assumptions and purposes. From this series of close studies we can chart the developing character of Fíthal from juridical authority in the legal and legalistic texts to ideal judge or chief judge in the wider literary tradition. The thesis is divided into seven chapters, a general introduction, and one appendix. Chapter 1 contains a literature review of the major authors and disciplines which contributed to the thesis. Chapter 2 explains Fíthal’s position as a Wisdom Figure and the international background of Irish didactic literature. Chapters 3 and 4 contain the survey of Fíthal’s existence in Irish literature including discussion of the authorial intent underlying each manifestation. Chapter 5 is a new critical edition of the most important poem concerning Fíthal. Chapter 6 is a discussion of some hitherto unexplored but important facets of Fíthal’s character and an assessment of the theoretical writings which have implications for an understanding of his status. This thesis contributes to the continuing debate concerning the relationship between early Irish law and early Irish literature while simultaneously updating and revising scholarly knowledge concerning Fíthal. The thesis ranges widely over early Irish literature as it touches on Fíthal and explains his role in the literature in both its native and international context. It is hoped that this treatment of a relatively obscure but widespread figure will demonstrate how it is possible within the extant evidence to capture a character with a continuing presence in the tradition – a conclusion with considerable implications for our understanding of the tradition itself.
Edinburgh Research Archive – PDF: <link>


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‘Christopher Yocum’ (id. 0000-0002-7241-3264)
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July 2021, last updated: May 2022