Canon/archive : large-scale dynamics in the literary field

  • Of the novelties introduced by digitization in the study of literature, the size of the archive is probably the most dramatic: we used to work on a couple of hundred nineteenth-century novels, and now we can analyze thousands of them, tens of thousands, tomorrow hundreds of thousands. It's a moment of euphoria, for quantitative literary history: like having a telescope that makes you see entirely new galaxies. And it's a moment of truth: so, have the digital skies revealed anything that changes our knowledge of literature? This is not a rhetorical question. In the famous 1958 essay in which he hailed "the advent of a quantitative history" that would "break with the traditional form of nineteenth-century history", Fernand Braudel mentioned as its typical materials "demographic progressions, the movement of wages, the variations in interest rates [...] productivity [...] money supply and demand." These were all quantifiable entities, clearly enough; but they were also completely new objects compared to the study of legislation, military campaigns, political cabinets, diplomacy, and so on. It was this double shift that changed the practice of history; not quantification alone. In our case, though, there is no shift in materials: we may end up studying 200,000 novels instead of 200; but, they're all still novels. Where exactly is the novelty?

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Author:Mark Algee-Hewitt, Sarah Allison, Marissa Gemma, Ryan Heuser, Franco Moretti, Hannah Walser
Parent Title (English):Stanford Literary Lab: Pamphlets ; 11
Series (Serial Number):Pamphlets of the Stanford Literary Lab (11)
Document Type:Working Paper
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2016/01/01
Publishing Institution:Universit├Ątsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Creating Corporation:Stanford Literary Lab
Release Date:2018/07/13
GND Keyword:Quantitative Literaturwissenschaft; Digital Humanities; Romantheorie
Volume:Stanford Literary Lab
Page Number:14
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 80 Literatur, Rhetorik, Literaturwissenschaft / 800 Literatur und Rhetorik
Sammlungen:CompaRe | Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
CompaRe | Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft / Stanford Literary Lab
BDSL-Klassifikation:03.00.00 Literaturwissenschaft / BDSL-Klassifikation: 03.00.00 Literaturwissenschaft > 03.06.00 Literaturtheorie
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht