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From Canon/Archive to a REAL REVOLUTION in Literary Studies

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
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Another working paper, title above, abstract a contents below.
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Abstract: Canon/Archive straddles the border between the standard interpretive literary criticism that has been in place since World War II and a new naturalist criticism in which literary texts and phenomena are treated as phenomena of the natural world, like language, without prejudice. This naturalist criticism takes the careful analytic description of texts, considered as strings of word forms, as its starting point. Canon/Archive exemplifies a computational criticism in which computers are tools used for analyzing texts, often taken as a corpus of 10s, 100s, or 1000s of texts. Naturalist criticism also includes a computational criticism in which computation is seen as the process linking word forms to semantic structures, expression to meaning. I examine two chapters from Canon/Archive, showing how that work can be supplemented by this other criticism in which computation is a model for a mental process.
“Revolution” 2
The real revolution is in attending rigorously to the signifiers in the text 3
       Computational Criticism in Context 3
       Word and Text 6
Moretti and the Stanford Literary Lab: Computational criticism in two senses and the prospect of a new approach to literary studies 9
       The Collaboratory 9
       Topics and paragraphs 13
       The direction of literary history 17
       What are the institutional possibilities of a new criticism, a deeply computational one? 19
Appendix 1: Jakobson’s poetic function and the text taken as a string of word forms 22
Literary Form 22
The poetic function as a computational principle 23
Appendix 2: From distant reading to computational criticism: Canon/Archive 25

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