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EnumerationsData and Literary Study$
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Andrew Piper

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226568614

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226568898.001.0001

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Introduction (Reading’s Refrain)

Introduction (Reading’s Refrain)

(p.1) Introduction (Reading’s Refrain)

Andrew Piper

University of Chicago Press

This book studies the meaning of repetitions of reading instead of its more singular moments--the quantities of texts and the quantities of things within texts--that give meaning to a reader's experience. The introduction establishes a new theoretical framework for thinking about literary quantity through three key terms: implication, distribution, and diagram. First, implication puts the idea of modeling and its contingency into the foreground of research. Focusing on the implicatedness of computational modeling allows a rethinking of our investments in either purely empirical or subjective reading experiences. Implicatedness acknowledges both the constructedness of our knowl­edge about the past and an underlying affirmatory belief contained in any construction of the world. Distributed reading, by contrast, suggests a fundamentally relational/reflexive way of thinking about literary meaning, the way the sense of a text is always mutually produced through the construction of context. Distributional models allow for a more spatial, contingent modeling of texts and contexts. Finally, diagrammatic reading indicates how the practice of computation produces meaning by "drawing together" different sign systems (letter, number, image). Replacing the haptic totality of the book--its graspability--computational reading relies on the diagram's perspectival totality, the continual mediation between letters and numbers.

Keywords:   digital humanities, cultural analytics, natural language processing, machine learning, literary theory

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