Introduction to Digital Humanities

Distant Reading

In 2014, Stanford professor Franco Moretti won a National Book Critics Circle Award for his collection of essays titled Distant Reading. As Joshua Rothman from The New Yorker explains here:

The basic idea in Moretti’s work is that, if you really want to understand literature, you can’t just read a few books or poems over and over (“Hamlet,” “Anna Karenina,” “The Waste Land”). Instead, you have to work with hundreds or even thousands of texts at a time. By turning those books into data, and analyzing that data, you can discover facts about literature in general—facts that are true not just about a small number of canonized works but about what the critic Margaret Cohen has called the “Great Unread.” 

Annotation #8

Keeping this premise in mind, read and collaboratively annotate:

1. Ted Underwood, "Distant Reading and Recent Intellectual History,"in Mathew Gold and Lauren Klein eds., Debates in Digital Humanities 2016. Open access edition, Hypothesis link.

2. Franco Moretti, “Patterns and Interpretation,” Pamphlets of the Stanford Literary Lab, 2017, Hypothesis link.

Assignment #8

Drawing on the insights you have gained from the assigned readings, use Voyant to analyze a demo corpora from Alan Liu's Data Collections and Datasets. After you have selected your corpus and uploaded it into Voyant, use The Practical Guide to Text Analysis with Voyant Tools (embedded via iframe below) to help you interpret the resulting visualizations. Embed your visualizations via iframe and/or the Voyant export function in your "Assignment #8" page of our workbook with a discussion of how you draw meaning from specific visualizations. What do they tell you about your corpus? Could you have arrived at that interpretation via close-reading, why or why not? Be sure to follow the instructions on the "Assignment" page of our workbook to make sure that it shows up in the contents of your personal page and the "Assignment #8" page. 

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