Featured Abstract: Feb. 16

Each Monday and Thursday, an abstract from one of the symposium participants will be posted to facilitate discussion.  We welcome your comments!

Featured Abstract: “Digital Literary History and its Discontent”

Fotis Jannidis, University of Wuerzburg

Literary history and digital humanities present themselves to the interested like an unfinished bridge marked by a huge gap the two sides. The side of literary history has been busy discussing the principles histories are constructed by and the demand of ever wider concepts of their subject. On the side of digital literary studies there are various attempts to read ‘a million books’ stretching the notion of ‘reading’ to new limits. Most work has been done on classification, specifically on genre classification (e.g. Mueller or Jockers). Work to close the gap can start from both sides. My talk will discuss some of the concepts underlying contemporary literary histories pushing towards a more formalized description. But this will only be possible for a very small part of the entire enterprise ‘literary history’ thus putting methods of digital literary studies in a subsidiary role. And even when it is possible to describe some aspect (genre, concepts like author, reader etc.) more formalized, most of the time this formal description cannot be applied automatically to larger collections of text. In a self-reflexive turn I will try to analyze how this ‘more formalized description’ is achieved describing thereby the gap between the conceptual modelling done in any humanities research and the demands of a more formal description.

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