How to Not Read a Novel

The core of our disciplinary practice, some might say literary study’s distinctive claim to disciplinarity, rests on “close reading.”  However, the massive digitizing of literary texts and the development of tools to harvest, mine, organize, visualize, and otherwise manipulate data have recently spawned counter-intuitive approaches to reading and interpretation.  Stephen Ramsay, for instance, posits textual analysis as a way to practice algorithmic criticism; Franco Moretti argues that “big data” can shape new modes of “distant reading.”  This project – – inspired by Paul Fyfe at Florida State University and Ryan Cordell at Northeastern University – –  asked students to experiment with algorithmic criticism and distant reading by treating literary texts as data.  In each case, students reflected on how learning “to not read a novel” can generate new questions about reading, interpretation, and narrative.

Click the images below to explore a selection of multimedia guides to “not reading a novel” published by students in English 495: Digital Literacies and Humanities (Spring 2017)

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