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Class 4 Notes

Page history last edited by Alan Liu 2 years, 3 months ago

Preliminary Class Business



1. Topics Discussed Last Week

Our discussion last week raised issues relating to the logic of:

                      Data         ←   Analysis   ➝        Pattern


❦ Additional issues raised by Alston in his post, "Notes on Moretti--Corroboration, Collaboration, Communication and Creativity":

       What is the work-flow and labor model of distant reading & DH?


2. Social Network Analysis



❦ "New Network Theory" Conference, Amsterdam, June 2007 (program)


❦ Representative examples of social network theory:



Related concepts: Semantic Web, RDF (Resource Description Framework), Linked Data


3. Deformance Theory


  • Lisa Samuels and Jerome J. McGann, "Deformance and Interpretation," New Literary History 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1999): 25-56  
    • "In this perspective, the critical and interpretive question is not "what does the poem mean?" but "how do we release or expose the poem's possibilities of meaning? Dickinson's reading proposal has nothing to say about "meaning" at all, new or old. Her thought, her ideaa, is not a reimagined meaning but a project for reconstituting the work's aesthetic form, as if a disordering of one's senses of the work would make us dwellers in possibility." (p. 28)
    • "Open the poem to its variable self." (p. 45)  
  • Jerome J. McGann, "Rethinking Textuality" (also available in print as chap. 5 of his Radiant Textuality: Literature After the World Wide Web [Palgrave, 2001]
    • "First, we now possessed a powerful physical argument for a key principle of "textual deformance" and its founding premise: that no text is self-identical."
    • "Second, . . . textual ambivalence can be located and revealed at graphical, pre-semantic levels."
  • Stephen Ramsay, "Toward an Algorithmic Criticism," Literary and Linguistic Computing 18.2 (2003): 167-174
    • "The question these methods propose is not, 'What does the text mean?' but rather, 'How do we ensure that it keeps on meaning?'--how, in other words, can we ensure that our engagement with the text is deep, multifaceted, and prolonged?" (p. 170)
  • Stephen Ramsay, "In Praise of Pattern" (2005) (see also the figures accompanying this article)
    • "And there you have it. Find interesting patterns and regularities in data that is generally held to be of the deepest significance, but which nonetheless contains the spurious, the contingent, the inexact, the imperfect, and the accidental in a state of almost guaranteed incompleteness. I have read few more accurate descriptions of the central task of literary criticism." (p. 186)
  • Geoffrey Rockwell, "What is Text Analysis, Really?", Literary and Linguistic Computing 18.2 (2003): 209-220 
    • "there is no a priori privilege to certain processes of decomposition and recomposition such as traditional concording.  The assumptions behind concording are as suspect as those behind newer visualization techniques. . . .  We need to play again and make playpens available to our colleagues rather than re-implement a limited set of procedures grounded in one hermeneutic." (p. 213)
    • "Rather than redeveloping tools based on principles of unity and coherence we should rethink our tools on a principle of research as disciplined play." (p. 213)
  • Julia Flanders, "Detailism, Digital Texts, and the Problem of Pedantry," TEXT Technology No. 2 (2005): 41-70   -- read pp. 54-67
    • "In the new generation of text analysis tools, the interface itself constitutes an experiment: an experiment in visualization of the text, as well as a way of selecting items for visualization. It heightens our perceptions—even alters our perception of pattern—and increases the role that perception itself plays in the process." (p. 64)
    • "In a context where the role of the interface is to foster provocation rather than proof, the movement from textual detail to overall pattern is not an inductive one, in which the details taken together constitute the evidence for the pattern." (p. 65)
  • But, see  David L. Hoover, "Hot-Air Textuality: Literature after Jerome McGann," TEXT Technology, 14.2 (2005): 71-103
    • "The problem with interpretation is not that literature needs to be opened up “in lots of new and interesting ways.” On the contrary, interpretation requires new, interesting, and reasonable ways of constraining the wide array of possible meanings that literary texts typically make at least marginally possible." (p. 90)



4. Deformance Theory & Visualization: A Hypothesis


  • John Crowe Ransom, The New Criticism (Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions, 1941):

John Crowe Ransom diagram     



Text = and Visualization? (cf., Walter Ong) 



(See Jack Goody, The Domestication of the Savage Mind (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977)



❦Early Typographical Design


     Early text without word space, capitalization, or punctuation:




Eadwine Psalter, c. 1150 (collation of versions of St. Jerome's Latin text of the Psalms, with Anglo-Saxon and French translations and glosses):




"In the Beginning Was the Word" Flash movie (Kim Knight/William Warner):


In the beginning was the Word screenshot 

"Illustration" (cover of J. Hillis Miller, Illustration (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992)


Cover of J. Hillis Miller, Illustration book 


Current importance of visualization in the humanities -- e.g., special section on "Digital Humanities and Information Visualization" in the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (April/May 2012)



Natalie Henry Riche (Microsoft Research Labs),

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