I’m very excited to be co-leading a Research Working Group on Distant Reading in the English Department at MSU, with Professor Steve Rachman.

Research Working Groups are a new initiative in the graduate program at MSU; the department is offering four, organized around intellectual, research, and teaching interests shared among faculty and graduate students.

From the English Department Website:

This workshop is for faculty and graduate students who wish to learn more about two important turns in literary studies and digital humanities: distant reading and graphesis.

Over the two semesters of this academic year we will engage the techniques and theories operating behind these analytical approaches. This workshop will 1.) discuss current work in the fields of distant reading and graphical analysis, 2.) share examples of works-in-progress by scholars on and off campus, and 3.) introduce relevant technologies and programs (Voyant, Gephi, etc., tailored to the interests of participants).

For the distant reading portion of the Workshop, key questions include: Do literary genres possess distinctive features at all possible scales of analysis and to what extent can these features be measured? Should the DH practices associated with distant reading be considered as “science” or “humanities”? How can the techniques of distant reading be applied to questions of gender, class, race, or other problems of identity, representation, and diversity?

The graphic mediation elements of the workshop will deal with a growing array of visual forms of knowledge production and consumption as they intersect with literary forms, and we will be investigating the ways in which diverse fields such as graphic design, mathematics, geography, the natural sciences, rhetoric, and philosophy and disciplines of the digital humanities, rhetoric, art history, architecture, and media studies have transformed and will transform literary study. As with the distant reading parts of the workshop, we will be trying to think through these interdisciplinary questions in terms of critical diversity.

We’ve assigned some fantastic readings, and will feature some wonderful guest speakers, including Andrew Piper, Matthew Wilkens, and Ted Underwood.

  • Meeting 1, September 19, 4:30-6:00. Histories of Distant Reading. Reading, “Graphs” from Graphs, Maps, and Trees by Franco Moretti (full text available online through MSU Library); “A Genealogy of Distant Reading” by Ted Underwood.
  • Meeting 2, October 17, 4:30-6:00. Measuring Metadata. Reading, “Between Canon and Corpus: Six Perspectives on 20th-Century Novels” by Mark Algee-Hewitt and Mark McGurl.
  • Meeting 3, November 14, 4:30-6:00. Computational Hermeneutics, Computational Trends with Andrew Piper (guest via skype). Reading, “Novel Devotions” by Andrew Piper.
  •  Meeting 4, December 5, 4:30-6:00. Presentation of Works in Progress

Join us!