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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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Corpus (Vulnerability)

Corpus (Vulnerability)

(p.147) Six Corpus (Vulnerability)

Andrew Piper

University of Chicago Press

The “corpus” (or body of work, since Cicero) of an author is meant to be organic, integral--well connected--but also distinct and whole; it marks limits; it is the material complement to the author’s life. What does it mean to imagine writing as a body, something with a distinct shape/form, but also subject to vulnerability? How do we understand those moments when a writer opens herself or her corpus up to change, how radical or gradual are these movements, how permanent, fleeting, or even recurrent? Is there something called “late style,” a distinctive signature that characterizes the end of a career as contours of an aging body mapped onto the weave of writing? When and how do we intellectually/creatively exfoliate? While we have very successful ways of detecting “authors” or “style,” we have considerably fewer techniques for talking about change, the nature of the variability within an author’s corporal outline, the variety of measures to study the shape of a writer’s career. Working with a trilingual collection of roughly 30,000 poems in French, German and English, this chapter explores questions of local/global vulnerability and late style, concluding with a computationally informed reading of the work of Wanda Coleman.

Keywords:   digital humanities, cultural analytics, natural language processing, late style, poetry, literary careers, corpus linguistics, Walt Whitman, Wanda Coleman, Goethe

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