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The Teaching ArchiveA New History for Literary Study$
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Rachel Sagner Buurma and Laura Heffernan

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226735948

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226736273.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Josephine Miles, English 1A (1940–55)

Josephine Miles, English 1A (1940–55)

(p.154) Chapter 6 Josephine Miles, English 1A (1940–55)
The Teaching Archive

Rachel Sagner Buurma

Laura Heffernan

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 6 turns to Josephine Miles’s notes from five decades of teaching at the University of California, Berkeley. Miles was an early practitioner of quantitative approaches to literary study, beginning with her 1938 doctoral thesis, for which she “counted” Wordsworth’s “feelings.” By the 1950s, Miles was collaborating with the electrical engineering lab at Berkeley to make the first computational concordance in the humanities. Alongside this lost history of distant reading, the chapter considers Miles’s notes for teaching English 1A, Berkeley’s freshman composition course. Miles taught this class as a workshop. The chapter describes how Miles’s focus on the sentence as foundational to composition shaped her research—research in which she pursued a method for quantifying the sentence structures of five-hundred years of poetry. In turn, Miles’s quantitative scholarship gave her a unique account of the value of freshman composition to society. Whereas the New Critics set literary and poetic form in opposition to scientific modes of writing and knowing, Miles believed that poems, English 1A papers, and handmade data sets all required decisions about representativeness and selection, qualification and connection. In her workshops, Miles taught students to write meaningfully about the world and its data from their own distinct perspectives.

Keywords:   Josephine Miles, quantitative literary study, distant reading, digital humanities, rhetoric and composition, first year writing, writing workshop, Romanticism, New Criticism, poetry

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