Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: March 19, 2021, 7:07 a.m. Humanist 34.289 - reactions to measurement, enumeration & mathematics

				                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 289.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                   		Hosted by DH-Cologne
                       www.dhhumanist.org
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org


    [1]    From: David Hoover 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.283: reactions to measurement, enumeration & mathematics? (75)

    [2]    From: Jan Rybicki 
           Subject: ODP: [Humanist] 34.285: words on behalf of the 'silent majority'? (78)


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2021-03-18 13:11:07+00:00
        From: David Hoover 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.283: reactions to measurement, enumeration & mathematics?

Dear Willard,

Emboldened by the example presented by Ioana Galleron, I decided to share
two examples from my own history as a (relatively) early adopter of
computation in literary studies in the early 1980's.

When I came up for tenure at NYU in 1986, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts
and Science, as he deliberated on my tenure case, asked me if I was willing
to come in for an interview about it (an unusual procedure that he
described as a "voluntary" interview). I was prepared for questions about
my relatively modest publication record (a book and three articles), but I
was not prepared for his real reservations. My first book, A New Theory of
Old English Meter (1985), used computation in a modest way to analyze Old
English metrical patterns. His concern was that I was "wasting my time on
computers." A description of my second project, a much more computationally
intensive book, Language and Style in The Inheritors, 1999, was part of the
docket. He asked me pointedly if I didn't think computers in education were
a "fad." Apparently, my response, "No," with an explanation, was enough to
allay his fears, as I am still tenured at NYU. A colleague also revealed
that there were two "no" votes on my tenure in the English Department,
largely on the basis that my work was not "literary enough."

That experience lives on with me in the first chapter of my new book, Modes
of Composition and the Durability of Style in Literature (Routledge  2021).
That chapter, "A Proof of Concept: Identifying Differences in Style," is
aimed squarely at the skepticism, still strong in many parts of the field,
that computational approaches to literature have any value or validity.
--
            David L. Hoover, Professor of English, NYU
         212-998-8832       244 Greene Street, Room 409
               http://wp.nyu.edu/davidlhoover

"They had the Nos. of the rain bow and the Power of the air all
workit out with counting which is how they got boats in the air
and picters on the wind. Counting clevverness is what it wer."
-- Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker


On Wed, Mar 17, 2021 at 3:18 AM Humanist  wrote:

>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 283.
>         Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                                 Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                        www.dhhumanist.org
>                 Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org
>
>
>
>
>         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
> www.mccarty.org.uk


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2021-03-18 09:21:20+00:00
        From: Jan Rybicki 
        Subject: ODP: [Humanist] 34.285: words on behalf of the 'silent majority'?

Dear Ioana,

The word "stylo" used in your missive to Humanist obviously triggers my reaction
to your Baudelairian problem. I apologise in advance in case you know that very
well, as is probably the case. Still:

1. Poetry is tougher for most-frequent-based stylometry than prose (text lengths
etc.); but, on the other hand, that's why it's so exciting to try...

2. I wouldn't stop at PCA in search for "originality": multiple cluster analysis
visualised with network analysis (stylo + gephi) usually is better, and
certainly will seem more attractive (and perhaps less intimidating) to your
Baudelaire specialist; of course (?) when, in your corpus, one author has lots
of texts as compared to others who have less, this may also be responsible for
his/her outlying position in the resulting network, so you may want to balance
your corpus in this respect.

It goes without saying that I'd love to see your results and to play with your
data.

Best,
Jan Rybicki

-----Wiadomość oryginalna-----o our
Od: Humanist 
Wysłano: czwartek, 18 marca 2021 09:25
Do: jkrybicki@gmail.com
Temat: [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
                       www.dhhumanist.org
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org




        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



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