Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 495. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2019-12-15 19:22:39+00:00 From: David Hoover
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.493: John F. Burrows (1928-2019) To those of us who knew him, the news of the passing of John F. Burrows produces a profound sense of loss. He was a great mind and a generous spirit who will be sorely missed. John produced more innovative and generative ideas after his retirement than most of us will manage in a lifetime. I vividly remember the first time I met John, at the ACH/ALLC conference (precursor to the ADHO conference) in New York in June of 2001, which he attended to receive the Busa Award and give his Busa lecture. I am sure that most of the audience expected, as I did, a retrospective talk about his long career in computational stylistics. Instead, he introduced Delta. His invigorating and ground-breaking talk has had a long-lasting and powerful effect on almost all of my own subsequent scholarship, and on the field of computational stylistics more generally. Beyond its innovative and generative character, perhaps the most important hallmark of John's work was his constant lesson that computational analysis of literary texts must, to be valuable, be insistently literary, must address questions of genuine import for literary scholars. When the sad news came, I had just finished putting a quotation from John at the head of a chapter of my forthcoming book (which would never have been conceived, let alone written, without him): "The close reader sees things in a text -- single moments and large amorphous movements -- to which computer programs give no easy access. The computer, on the other hand, reveals hidden patterns and enables us to marshal hosts of instances too numerous for our unassisted powers." "The Englishing of Juvenal: Computational Stylistics and Translated Texts." Style 36 (4): 696. I shall not look upon his like again. -- David L. Hoover, Professor of English NYU Eng. Dept. 212-998-8832 https://wp.nyu.edu/davidlhoover/ Adolph slid back into the thicket and lay down behind a fallen log to see what would happen. Not much ever happened to him but weather. --Willa Cather On Sun, Dec 15, 2019 at 10:23 AM Humanist wrote: > Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 493. > Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London > Hosted by King's Digital Lab >> Submit to: email@example.com > > > > > Date: 2019-12-15 15:05:24+00:00 > From: Willard McCarty > Subject: John F. Burrows (1928-2019) > > The great scholar of computational stylistics John F. Burrows died > peacefully in Sydney this morning, following by a few days the death of > his wife Pam. > > There are many better qualified than I to take the measure of his work > -- I invite their responses here -- but I know enough to see in that > work implications yet to be appreciated across the disciplines, > including those sciences we seldom associate with the humanities. > Burrows' scholarship is not the stuff of bandwagon fanfare. It is what > we might call the quiet, slowly acting stuff that awakens the reader to > new, disturbing, exciting questions, bestowing, in Blake's words, > "expanding eyes". And we wonder, reading it, how by statistical methods, > complex and black-boxed, a most elusive of human characteristics, style, > becomes mathematically visible from a large number of weak markers? > What does this tell us about us? And what does that tell us about > directions in which the machine could go? > > There have been many pursuits of style by means of computing, but few > who have pursued it have, as John did, so masterfully and patiently kept > always to the fore the subtle balance between literature read with a > lover's eyes and precisely countable, computable data. His balancing of > them began more or less with Computation into Criticism: A Study of Jane > Austen's Novels and an Experiment in Method (1987, the year Humanist > started) and ended, as far as I know, with "Rho-grams and rho-sets: > Significant links in the web of words", DSH 2018. That article typically > announces a new venture: > > > ... an initial account of a promising new procedure for > > assessing some major forms of stylistic difference among written > > texts... It can be seen, perhaps, as a valedictory gesture as I enter > > my 90th year and come, so I must suppose, towards the end of a long > > scholarly career.... Few readers of this journal will need my > > rationale to persuade them that our work is worthwhile. It is > > intended, rather, as a contribution to the continuing struggle to > > persuade our traditionalist colleagues that we have much to offer. > > Always, modestly, "our work", always socially minded, worrying its place > among colleagues. But how much further in his articulation it goes. In > doing so, it serves as a reminder that digital humanities comes to life > and will stay alive not as some 'next new [rapidly ageing] thing' but in > the interdisciplinary meeting ground of relation to the older fields of > enquiry, which have so much to teach us. > > Farewell, my old friend! > > Yours, > W > -- > Willard McCarty > Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College > London; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews and Humanist _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: firstname.lastname@example.org List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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