Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: March 18, 2021, 8:25 a.m. Humanist 34.285 - words on behalf of the 'silent majority'?

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 285.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2021-03-17 20:22:24+00:00
        From:  Ioana Galleron <>
        Subject: [Humanist] 34.283: reactions to measurement, enumeration & mathematics?

[The following, sent to me directly, is a good example of a casual reaction 
of the kind that for me as an advisor to academics from the late 1980s 
to the mid 1990s I came to expect. More often, however, rejection was
unspoken, ambient, but Rosanne Potter put it much better in the
Preface to Literary Computing and Literary Criticism (1989): "It has 
not been rejected, but rather neglected." To my mind this gives more 
force to the explicit rejections and outbursts, which (as it were) speak 
for the infamous 'silent majority'. More the the following sort? --WM]

Dear Willard McCarty,

Here is my testimonial: when working on the French poetry of the XIXth
century from a lexicometric point of view, I was surprised to see that,
whatever the approach and tool (TXM, Stylo), Baudelaire’s poetry always
appeared in the dead centre of the PCA graph. Quite surprisingly, there
is good differentiation between romanticist and parnassien poets, as
well as between decadents and symbolists, but Baudelaire seems to be a
kind of « middle ground » of the 19th century poetry.

I have tried to have a conversation with a Baudelaire specialist on
these graphs, and this colleague’s reaction was very blunt: « if the
Machine is not able to see Baudelaire’s originality, it is clear it
cannot understand anything to poetry and should not be used for any kind
of ‘reading'».

Of course, this reaction may be the result of my clumsiness in
manipulating text with digital tools, or of my incapacity to make this
discovery (if there is one) interesting to him.

I don’t know if this is the kind of testimony you are looking for, but I
hope it may be of use to you.

Best regards,
Ioana Galleron

> Le 17 mars 2021 à 08:18, Humanist <> a écrit :
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 283.
>        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                               Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                Submit to:
>        Date: 2021-03-17 07:12:33+00:00
>        From: Willard McCarty <>
>        Subject: reactions to measurement, enumeration & mathematics
> As some here will know, I'm in pursuit of reactions to measurement,
> enumeration & mathematics in the humanities, esp literary studies and
> history, from the earliest days of computing to the onset of the Web.
> I'm particularly interested in reactions that are of the over-the-top
> sort, but even mild ones are of interest. This includes charges that use
> of computers dehumanises the user or subject, that refer to
> quantification or applied maths in any sort of negative context and so
> on. I've had my net in those waters for quite some time, but (I am
> supposing) because academic decorum tends to filter out such expressions
> of disapproval, they are hard to find. Sober discussions of such
> reactions would also be welcome.
> Many thanks for any references.
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty,
> Professor emeritus, King's College London;
> Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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