Digital Humanities and Computer Assisted Literary Criticism


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Digital Humanities and Computer Assisted Literary Criticism

  1. 1. WHAT IS DIGITAL HUMANITIES WHAT IS IT DOING IN DEPT. OF ENGLISH & A NEW COMPUTER-ASSISTED LITERARY CRITICISM? MATTHEW G. KIRSCHENBAUM & RAYMOND G. SIEMENS Sem 2 Unit 2: Literary Theory & Criticism 1 Dept. of English, M.K. Bhavnagar University, Bhavnagar (Gujarat – India) June 2012 (edits Jan 2014)
  2. 2. I teach, therefore you learn . . . or do you?  Changing form of literature – subject & narrative style – an influence of the ‗time‘.  Vook? Reading vook.  Recent research – Jockers – ‗Influence of Jane Austen on other literary figures‘  Example of ‗door‘ in ‗The White Tiger‘  Big Data as a Lense on Human Culture  The future can hold now that so much of the literary canon is accessible digitally  2
  3. 3. WHAT IS DIGITAL HUMANITIES?   The digital humanities is an area of research, teaching, and creation concerned with the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. Developing from the field of humanities computing, digital humanities embraces a variety of topics ranging from curating online collections to data mining large cultural data sets. Digital Humanities currently incorporates both digitized and born-digital materials and combines the methodologies from the traditional humanities disciplines (such as history, philosophy, linguistics, literature, art, archaeology, music, and cultural studies), as well as social sciences [1] , with tools provided by computing (such as data visualisation, information retrieval, data mining, statistics, computational analysis) and digital publishing. 3
  4. 4. WHAT IS DH DOING IN ENGLISH DEPTS.? some half a dozen reasons why English departments have historically been hospitable settings for this:  First, after numeric input, text has been by far the most tractable datatype for computers to manipulate. Unlike images, audio, video, and so on, there is a long tradition of text-based data processing that was within the capabilities of even some of the earliest computer systems and that has for decades fed research in fields like stylistics, linguistics, and author attribution studies, all heavily associated with English departments.  4
  5. 5. WHAT IS DH DOING IN ENGLISH DEPTS.? Second, of course, there is the long association between computers and composition, almost as long and just as rich in its lineage.  Third is the pitch-perfect convergence between the intense conversations around editorial theory and method in the 1980s and the widespread means to implement electronic archives and editions very soon after; Jerome McGann is a key figure here, with his work on the Rossetti Archive, which he has repeatedly described as a vehicle for applied theory, standing as paradigmatic.  5
  6. 6. WHAT IS DH DOING IN ENGLISH DEPTS.? Fourth, and at roughly the same time, is a modest but much-promoted belle-lettristic project around hypertext and other forms of electronic literature that continues to this day and is increasingly vibrant and diverse.  Fifth is the openness of English departments to cultural studies, where computers and other objects of digital material culture become the centerpiece of analysis. I‘m thinking here, for example, of the reader Stuart Hall and others put together around the Sony Walkman, that hipster iPod of old.  6
  7. 7. WHAT IS DH DOING IN ENGLISH DEPTS.?  Finally, today, we see the simultaneous explosion of interest in e-reading and e-book devices like the Kindle, iPad, and Nook and the advent of largescale text digitization projects, the most significant of course being Google Books, with scholars like Franco Moretti taking up data mining and visualization to perform ―distance readings‖ of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of books at a time. 7
  8. 8. OVERVIEW OF SOME RECENT WORK IN COMPUTER ASSISTED LITERARY CRITICISM Raymond Siemens  John Smith  Tim William Machan  Michael Best  Susan Schreibman  William Winder  Tamsie Van Pelt  Marshall Soules  Geoffrey Rockwell  Dene Grigar  8
  9. 9. JOHN SMITH    In the first paper, "Computer Criticism", John Smith explains that computer applications for language and literature studies have either involved the production of aids with which most of us are familiar (e.g., dictionaries or concordances) or have involved the use of the computer for the analysis of specific works. He explains, correctly I think, that the second offers a new methodology that has been largely overlooked because of lack of experience on the part of those who have traditionally undertaken literary analysis. Smith correctly points out that the computer can only augment the critics' judgment, not replace it, but he makes a convincing case that such augmentation is of value. 9
  10. 10.  If there is such a thing as a new computerassisted literary criticism, its expression lies in a model that is as broad-based as Smith's, and is as encompassing of the discipline of literary studies as it is tied to the evolving nature of the electronic literary text that lies at the heart of that discipline's intersection with computing 10
  11. 11.  It is the desire to establish the parameters of such a model for the interaction between literary studies and humanities computing - for a model of the new computer-assisted literary. 11
  12. 12. TIM WILLIAM MACHAN  In the introduction to his Medieval Literature: Texts and Interpretation, Machan succinctly expresses a division of literary critical and scholarly work into two chief categories: what he terms "Lower Criticism," which is chiefly textual and bibliographical in nature, and "Higher Criticism, “which is typified by interpretive studies. 12
  13. 13.  the relationship between the two is mutually influential, for "without the traditional Lower Criticism's constructing of texts, there can be no focus for the theorizing of Higher Criticism, just as without the traditional Higher Criticism's interpretation of texts there can be no contexts within which Lower Criticism can identify facts" 13
  14. 14. MICHAEL BEST  "The Text of Performance and the Performance of Text in the Electronic Edition “explores the notion of the "performance crux"- a moment, puzzling to the director and actors, that calls for some kind of stage business to justify or explain action - in the surviving texts of many of Shakespeare's plays. 14
  15. 15. SUSAN SCHREIBMAN  In her article," Computer-mediated Texts and Textuality: Theory and Practice,“ she continues concern with the scholarly electronic edition, beginning with the observation that the majority of literary archives in electronic form within have been conceived more as digital libraries than disquisitions that utilise the medium as a site of interpretation- tracing this situation to the underlying philosophy of texts and textuality implicit in TEI-SGML 15
  16. 16. WILLIAM WINDER   " Industrial Text and French Neo-structuralism“ discusses that mode in the context of its origins in reaction to French post-structuralist theorization and examines a number of exemplary approaches to text analysis in this vein. Further, he considers how computer-assisted accumulation of text-based expertise in the world at large complements this approach, ultimately concluding that we can anticipate the direction of critical studies to be radically altered by the sheer size of the economic stakes implied by a new kind of text, the industrial text which lies at the centre of an information society. 16
  17. 17. TAMSIE VAN PELT    Exploring further the cross-fertilization of theoretical approaches and computing is Tamise Van Pelt's "The Question Concerning Theory: Humanism, Subjectivity, and Computing." Within, Van Pelt surveys the shift from humanist, to antihumanist, to posthumanist assumptions in literary critical circles and questions whether today's computing environments can still be approached through late twentieth century anti-humanist theories or whether electronic texts demand new, media-specific analyses. Current work in new media, she asserts, suggests that the dominant discourse on the subject - the rational individual of the humanistic enlightenment, which gave way to the constructed subject of the mid-twentieth century (the discourse underlying much contemporary critical theory) - is being challenged by an emergent discourse of the posthuman. 17
  18. 18. MARSHALL SOULES in his "Animating the Language Machine: Computers and Performance,“ explores how we consider a recently-emergent type of text - the computer-mediated writing space - as a unique performance medium with characteristic protocols.  Drawing on contemporary performance theory, literary criticism, and communication theory, Soules proposes that technologists, academics, and artists are developing idiomatic rhetorics to explore the technical and expressive properties of the new "language machines" and their hypertextual environments.  18
  19. 19. GEOFFREY ROCKWELL  In "Gore Galore: Literary Theory and Computer Games," Geoffrey Rockwell provides a brief history of another recently-emergent type of text, the computer game, and asserts that they have not been adequately theorized. Rockwell develops a topology of computer games and a theory, based on Bakhtin's poetics of the novel, that views them as rhetorical artifacts well-suited for critical study. 19
  20. 20. DENE GRIGAR  In her "Mutability, Medium, and Character," Grigar explores the future of literature created for and with computer technology, focusing primarily on the trope of mutability as it is played out with the new media. In its speculation about the possibilities of this new genre, it explores ways in which we may want to think when developing future theories about literature- and all types of writing - generated by and for electronic environment 20
  21. 21. CASE STUDY 1: MATTHEW JOCKERS Computing and Visualizing the 19th-Century Literary Genome  Method: The 3,592 books in my corpus span from 1780 to 1900 and were written by authors from Britain, Ireland, and America; the corpus is almost even in terms of gender representation. From each of these books, I extracted stylistic information using techniques similar to those employed in authorship attribution analysis: the relative frequencies of every word and mark of punctuation are calculated and the resulting data winnowed so as to exclude features not meeting a preset relative frequency threshold.  21
  22. 22. OUTCOME OF CASE STUDY 1 Using three measures of network significance (weighted in-degree, weighted out-degree and Page-Rank), I will end my presentation with the argument that Jane Austen and Walter Scott are at once the least influenced (i.e. most original) of the early writers in the network and, at the same time, the most influential in terms of the longevity, or ‗fitness,‘ of their thematic-stylistic signals.  The signals introduced by Austen and Scott position them at the beginning of a stylistic-thematic genealogy; they are, in this sense, the literary equivalent of Homo erectus or, if you prefer, Adam and Eve.  22
  23. 23. CASE STUDY 2: ‗DOOR‘ IN THE WHITE TIGER eText of The White Tiger – Arvind Adiga  The word ‗Door‘ recurring more than 100 times.  It‘s recurrence is symbolic.  It proves to be an important ‗key‘ to solve the puzzle of ‗The White Tiger‘.  "'You were looking for the key for years/But the door was always open!'"  This is possible only if the text is in digital format.  23
  24. 24. CASE STUDY 3: ‗LIZARD‘, ‗BUFFALO‘, ‗TIGER‘, BUDDHA AND GANDHI – RECURRING IMAGES SYMBOLISM The feature as simple as ‗Ctrl+F‘ gives us opportunity to find recurrent ‗words‘.  The study of ‗words‘ from the semantic field of animals, gives us an idea to have ecocritical reading of the text.  It was a pleasant surprise to find recurrent images of buffalo, lizard and tiger in the novel which opportune us to explore deeper symbolic connection with the archetypes.  Similarly, Buddha and Gandhi, also resurfaced in the narrative at regular interval.  24
  25. 25. CREATIVE WRITERS UNDER DIGITAL LENS The new tools of discovery provide a fresh look at culture, much as the microscope gave us a closer look at the subtleties of life and the telescope opened the way to faraway galaxies.  ―Traditionally, literary history was done by studying a relative handful of texts,‖ says Mr. Jockers, an assistant professor of English and a researcher at the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska. ―What this technology does is let you see the big picture — the context in which a writer worked — on a scale we‘ve never seen before.‖  25
  26. 26. In literature, stylometry is the study of an author‘s writing style, and these days it leans heavily on computing and statistical analysis.  Culturomics is the umbrella term used to describe rigorous quantitative inquiries in the social sciences and humanities.  ―Computing and Visualizing the 19th-Century Literary Genome.‖ Such biological metaphors seem apt, because much of the research is a quantitative examination of words. Just as genes are the fundamental building blocks of biology, words are the raw material of ideas.  26
  27. 27.  For example, type in ―women‖ in comparison to ―men,‖ and you see that for centuries the number of references to men dwarfed those for women. The crossover came in 1985, with women ahead ever since. (Lohr, Steve – Dickens, Austen and Twain, Through a Digital Lens. 27
  28. 28. UNCHARTED: BIG DATA AS A LENS ON HUMAN CULTURE   Aiden and Michel, who met at Harvard‘s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics and dubbed their field of research ―culturomics,‖ contextualize the premise: ―At its core, this big data revolution is about how humans create and preserve a historical record of their activities. Its consequences will transform how we look at ourselves. It will enable the creation of new scopes that make it possible for our society to more effectively probe its own nature. Big data is going to change the humanities, transform the social sciences, and renegotiate the relationship between the world of commerce and the ivory tower.‖ (Aiden and Michel) 28
  29. 29. REFERENCES:             Adiga, Arvind. The White Tiger. 2008. HarperCollins. India Aiden, Erez, Jean-Baptiste Michel. Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture. 2013. Barad, Dilip. Comparative Overview of the Forms of Storytelling with Reference to the Digital Age. Spark International eJournal. Vol III. Iss. 3. Aug 2011. ―Digital Humanities‖. Wikipedia. Wikimedia, 26 Nov. 2010. Web. 2 June. 2012. English Departments? 2010. Jockers, Matthew L. Stanford University. ―Testing Authorship in the Personal Writings of Joseph Smith Using NSC Classification.‖ Jockers, Matthew. Macroanalysis. Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in Lohr, Steve. Dickens, Austen and Twain, Through a Digital Lens> Ryan, Marie-Laure. Ed. ‗Cyberspace Textuality – Computer Technology and Literary Theory‘.1999. Indiana University Press. Scholes, Robert, Clifford Wulfman. AssociationHumanities Computing and Digital Humanities Source: South Atlantic Review, Vol. 73, No. 4, THE CHANGING UNIVERSITY AND THEHUMANITIES (Fall 2008), pp. 50-66Published by: South Atlantic Modern Language AssociationStable URL: . Siemens, Raymond G. ‗A New Computer-Assisted Literary Criticism? Reviewed work(s):Source: Computers and the Humanities, Vol. 36, No. 3, A New Computer-Assisted LiteraryCriticism? (Aug., 2002), pp. 259-267Published by: SpringerStable URL: 29