Author Archives: Michael Witmore

Now Read This: A Thought Experiment

Let’s say that we believe we can learn something more about what literary critics call “authorial style” or “genre” by quantitative work. We want to say what that “more” is. We assemble a community of experts, convening a panel of early modernists to identify 10 plays that they feel are comedies based on prevailing definitions […]

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The Novel and Moral Philosophy 3: What Does Lennox Do with Moral Philosophy Words?

The previous two posts explored how an eighteenth century novel uses words from an associated topic to fulfill, and perhaps shape, the expectations of an audience looking to immerse themselves in a life as it is lived. In this post I want to think a little more about the idea that the red words identified […]

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Adjacencies, Virtuous and Vicious, and the Forking Paths of Library Research

Browsable stacks – shelves of books that you can actually look at, pull off the shelf, read a while, and put back. They’re wonderful. Folger readers regularly comment on the fact that they can walk freely through the stacks of the secondary collection, which in our case means books published after 1830. That collection is […]

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The Future of the Humanities Will Be Demand-Led

The following is an unpolished contribution to some recent debates about the wisdom of defending, or ceasing to defend, the humanities. In what follows, I do not discuss what is deep, rich, and wonderful about the humanities. People who already care already know. I believe the public discussion ought to start somewhere else. When I […]

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Visualizing English Print, 1530-1800, Genre Contents of the Corpus

Some features of the corpus, visualized here over time. Many of the linguistic and topical trends that we find in this data set will express the state of the corpus at a given moment in time. I have divided up the time series into groups containing three decades apiece. The visualization above displays the relative […]

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