Category Archives: Quant Theory

Latour, the Digital Humanities, and the Divided Kingdom of Knowledge

  Published last week, “Latour, the Digital Humanities, and the Divided Kingdom of Knowledge” is an article developed from the Recomposing the Humanities Conference sponsored by New Literary History at the University of Virginia in September of 2015. Supplemental digital media for the article can be found here. Abstract: Talk about the humanities today tends to […]

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Auerbach Was Right: A Computational Study of the Odyssey and the Gospels

In the “Fortunata” chapter of his landmark study, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality, Eric Auerbach contrasts two representations of reality, one found in the New Testament Gospels, the other in texts by Homer and a few other classical writers. As with much of Auerbach’s writing, the sweep of his generalizations is broad. Long excerpts are chosen from […]

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Finding “Distances” Between Shakespeare’s Plays 2: Projecting Distances onto New Bases with PCA

It’s hard to conceive of distance measured in anything other than a straight line. The biplot below, for example, shows the scores of Shakespeare’s plays on the two Docuscope LATs discussed in the previous post, FirstPerson and AbstractConcepts: Plotting the items in two dimensions gives the viewer some general sense of the shape of the data. “There are more items […]

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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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Fuzzy Structuralism

Several years ago I did some experiments with Franco Moretti, Matt Jockers, Sarah Allison and Ryan Heuser on a set of Victorian novels, experiments that developed into the first pamphlet issued by the Stanford Literary Lab. Having never tried Docuscope on anything but Shakespeare, I was curious to see how the program would perform on […]

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