Toward a Computational Historicism: From Literary Networks to the Autonomous Aesthetic

28 Pages Posted: 5 May 2014

Date Written: May 4, 2014

Abstract

Stephen Greenblatt has identified pairs of moments in literary history such that the former moment must necessarily have preceded the later: literary history has a direction. This can be explained by asserting that the later texts required computational procedures capable of operating on the objects created by the earlier procedures, in the manner of Piaget’s reflective abstraction. Beyond Greenblatt’s examples two such pairs are examined, Amleth and Hamlet, The Winter’s Tale and Wuthering Heights. Also considered: Heuser and Le-Khac on 19th Century British novels. Three network-based network models are considered, at macro (topic modeling), meso (Moretti’s character networks), and micro scales (cognitive networks) of time.

Keywords: stephen Greenblatt, Franco Moretti, historicism, topic modeling, cognitive networks, plots, 19th Century British Novel, Shakespeare

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., Toward a Computational Historicism: From Literary Networks to the Autonomous Aesthetic (May 4, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2432653 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2432653

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