One comment on “Maps and Texts and Data (oh, my!)

  1. I think I pretty much agree with your points here. I’m pretty fascinated by recent work scholars have been doing in this vein (I like Franco Moretti’s work especially), but I’m pretty resistant to claims they make along the lines that data-driven work is ALL the study of literature should become. The data approach makes us aware of interesting things about literature that we couldn’t easily become aware through traditional literary criticism, but what it makes us aware of is not fundamentally more true than what other methods aim at. Beyond that question of truth, though, there’s a trap that approach easily falls into, I think, of solidifying the idea that ‘literature’ is a thing really happens in objective reality, and the work of scholars is just to try to reflect it accurately from outside that imperturbable world. And I guess I just don’t like that conception of the work of literary criticism.

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