Digital Humanities

Defining Monographs

Jockers, M. L. (2013) Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History. Urbana: University of Illinois Press

Programmatic book using digital text methods to look at Irish literature in America but more specifically to help promote the methods of digital humanities. Jockers wants to use his case to show how and why digital methods are now “reached a tipping point, an event horizon where enough text and literature have been encoded to both allow and, indeed, force us to ask an entirely new set of questions about literature and the literary record.” (4)

Evidence (ch2) argues that literary studies is based on observations and sampling, and thus akin to some types of scientific investigation. Sampling is the found in close reading, which focuses on a single work or part of a work. Observations are the texts used in literary studies. The biggest difference between science and literature is the ability for the former to use experiments to test observations and conclusions [conjectures and refutations a la Popper]. Observations and the samples from which they are drawn are always potentially flawed. Big data is changing the possibilities for sampling. Some large databases in literature are being built by vendors (Chadwyck-Healy), grassroots organizations (Project Gutenberg), non-profits (Internet Archive, HathiTrust), and for-profit businesses (Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook).

Traditions (ch3) is a review of previous work in DH and corpus linguistics. Some DH projects of note: MONK (Metadata Offers New Knowledge; monkproject.org); SEASR (Software Environment for Advanced Scholarly Research; seasr.org); DARIAH (Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities; dariah.eu) Jockers uses the example of the WordHoard project to describe his program for macroanalysis. “The end result is that the WordHoard tool takes us quite far away from the actual occurrences of the words in the texts; our attention is drawn to an examination of the bigger picture, the macroview of love when used as a noun, of love when used as a verb, and in both cases of love as it is used by male or female speakers. This is not close reading; this is macroanalysis, and the strength of the approach is that it allows for both zooming in and zooming out.”

Macroanalysis (ch4) borrows the macro-/micro- economics distinction to show how Jockers and other DH scholars are creating a new field of study. His work on Irish American literature is engaging the larger humanities research questions of creativity, history, and influence.

Moretti, F. (2005) Graphs, maps, trees: abstract models for a literary history. London; New York: Verso.

Moretti introduced the term distant reading to the digital humanities conversation. He uses the three metaphors of graphs, maps, and trees to discuss the different ways that digital humanities methods may be applied to reading in order to deepen our understanding of literature.

Moretti, F. (2013) Distant Reading. London; New York: Verso.

This is a collection of papers and essays by Moretti over the past 2 decades discussing his ideas on distant reading.

Ramsay, S. (2011) Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism. Urbana: University of Illinois Press

Checked out of the library but promptly forgot its contents.