Toward a Theory of the Corpus

47 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2019

Date Written: December 31, 2018


Recent corpus techniques ask literary analysts to bracket the interpretation of meaning so that we may trace the motions of mind. These techniques allow us to think of the mind as being, in some aspect, a high-dimensional space of verbal meanings. Texts then become paths through such a space. The overarching argument is that by thinking of texts as just ordered collections of physical symbols that are meaningless in themselves we can examine those collections in ways that allow us to recover the motions of mind as it constructs meanings for itself. When we examine a corpus over historical time we can see the evolution of mind. The corpus thus becomes an arena in which we investigate the movements of mind at various scales.

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., Toward a Theory of the Corpus (December 31, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

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