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Contemporary Digital Humanities

Institute for Humanities Research, ASU 2/23/12
by

Ed Finn

on 9 September 2013

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Transcript of Contemporary Digital Humanities

Contemporary Digital Humanities
Ed Finn
edfinn@asu.edu / @zonal

David Foster Wallace
(1962 - 2008)
Junot Díaz
(1968 - )
Methodology
The Data
Book Reviews
Amazon Reader Reviews
(1996 - 2011)
New York Times
Los Angeles Times
Washington Post
Chicago Tribune
New Yorker
Time
Newsweek
Nation
NY Review of Books
Professional Critics
(1987 - 2011)
Reception
Digital Book
Culture
Fame
The Project
The Social Lives of Books
Recommendation Networks
Co-Occurence Networks
Tools:
Perl, MySQL, XML, GraphML

Named Entity Recognition:
Stanford NLP Toolkit, MorphAdorner-->Hand-Coded Dictionary

Visualizations:
yEd Graph Editor, CFinder
(Source: NYTimes)
(Source: Montclair State)
Difference: Culture Reflects Style Reflects Culture

Postmodern vs. Contemporary: Critics hear Wallace speaking to tradition; consumers experience his work personally and in the present
Politics of Language: English, Spanish, and Nerd

Redefining the intrinsically American: The reverse colonization of The Lord of the Rings, comic book culture, American dialect
William Gaddis’ exhaustive analyses of contemporary mendacity and greed (“The Recognitions” and “JR”); John Barth’s gargantuan parodies of academic strife and scholarship (“Giles Goat-Boy” and “Letter”); Stanley Elkin’s metaphoric employment of multiple sclerosis to explore commercial and psychological diversification (“The Franchiser”); Don DeLillo’s memorable sendup of the scientific imagination (“Ratner's Star”); William T. Vollmann’s hallucinatory reconstruction of the history of North America (his ongoing Seven Dreams sequence); and especially Thomas Pynchon’s magnificent reimagining of the Second World War as the defining event of this century’s past and future (“Gravity's Rainbow”)--all these daunting (and, to various degrees, brilliant) fictions underlie David Foster Wallace’s blackly funny vision of America in the years just ahead as a culture shaped by its surrender to various addictions and destroying itself in the pursuit of pleasure.

—Allen, Bruce. “Future Imperfect.” Chicago Tribune. March 24, 1996.
“We are all dying to give our lives away to something, maybe.” That dangling Hamlet-like doubt—that “maybe”—calls into question not the quest but its effects—the consequences of surrendering oneself, of being swept away that await the wandering souls at the end of their journey.
—Marfin, Gary C. “A Hypnotic and Remarkable Novel.” Amazon.com review of Infinite Jest, August 1 2009.
It’s like reading Melville’s Moby Dick, Joyce’s Ulysses or Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. If you are a serious contemporary/postmodern/whatever reader or writer you must read it. Whatever time it takes. Homework. Don’t skip the footnotes. You will not regret it. You'll laugh/cry/it will become you/etc. Infinite Jest is the book I recommend when I am talking to people who REALLY READ BOOKS.

—Roberti, J. E. “A Great and Difficult Book (As It Should Be).” Amazon [Review of Infinite Jest] 17 Feb 2008.
Díaz Amazon Recs (Dec. 2010)
Díaz Persistent Amazon Recs (Dec. 2010 – Mar. 2011)
Díaz Professional Reviews (Ordered by Centrality)
Until the passing of time lifts the new immigrants as it once lifted the old ones—it is not clear that our society remains resilient enough for this to happen—it is the artists who offer most of us the only way across and back. It took Dickens to arouse the Victorians to an awareness of the horrors below; it may be only a Diaz and his fellow writers who can arouse our imaginations, at least.

—Eder, Richard. “An Artist in Transit.” Los Angeles Times 1 Sept 1996.
Díaz Amazon Reviews (Central-most nodes in the middle)
I really enjoyed the way Díaz salted so many untranslated Spanish (and specifically Dominican) phrases throughout the book.…In a way this technique reminded me of Tolkien who employed passages of untranslated Elvish in his own fiction. It helps to create a mood a feeling of verisimilitude (overused as that word is) a depth. It really invites you into the inner lives of this Dominican family.

—Fisher, Jason. “A Mythology for the Dominican Republic.” Amazon review of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. 24 Oct 2008.

Automated Recommendations
I.e. "Customers who bought this item also bought"
OK: What do you think of the modern state of American literature?

DFW: Ugggggghhhhh. Somebody asked me this a couple of weeks ago. I think the truth is that it’s a very exciting period but it’s one that probably people in other countries won’t have as much access to. Because 30 or 40 years ago American literature mainly existed in ten or a dozen giant literary figures, and there are now probably more like 100 or 200 literary figures, all of whom are quite good and quite interesting, but none really of the stature and international reputation of, say, a Saul Bellow or a William Faulkner or an Ernest Hemingway.

—David Foster Wallace interview with Ostap Karmodi, New York Review of Books Blog. June 13, 2011.
The
Middle
Zone

Digital book culture is list-driven
(bestsellers, prize-winners, recommendations)
James English
Mark McGurl
Bruno Latour
Networks are multidimensional lists
Social Network Analysis
Guillory: canons and syllabi are lists
Pierre Bourdieu
Distant Reading
Literary Marketplace
Cultural Capital
Close Reading
Full transcript