Martin Paul Eve

Sep 29, 2020

Close Reading with Computers

Textual Scholarship, Computational Formalism, and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas

Stanford University Press 2019

purchase at bookshop.org Most contemporary digital studies are interested in distant-reading paradigms for large-scale literary history. This book asks what happens when such telescopic techniques function as a microscope instead. The first monograph to bring a range of computational methods to bear on a single novel in a sustained fashion, it focuses on the award-winning and genre-bending Cloud Atlas (2004). Published in two very different versions worldwide without anyone taking much notice, David Mitchell's novel is ideal fodder for a textual-genetic publishing history, reflections on micro-tectonic shifts in language by authors who move between genres, and explorations of how we imagine people wrote in bygone eras. Though Close Reading with Computers (Stanford University Press, 2019) focuses on but one novel, it has a crucial exemplary function: author Martin Paul Eve demonstrates a set of methods and provides open-source software tools that others can use in their own literary-critical practices. In this way, the project serves as a bridge between users of digital methods and those engaged in more traditional literary-critical endeavors. Close Reading with Computers was the winner of the 2019 Philip Leverhulme Prize, sponsored by The Leverhulme Trust. Martin Paul Eve is Professor of Literature, Technology, and Publishing at Birkbeck College, University of London. Reading mentioned in the episode: -Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein, Data Feminism (MIT Press, 2020) -Lauren F. Klein, ‘Distant Reading After Moretti’ -Andrew Piper, Enumerations: Data and Literary Study (University of Chicago Press 2018) -Ted Underwood, Distant Horizons: Digital Evidence and Literary Change (University of Chicago Press, 2019).
Joanna Taylor is Presidential Academic Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Manchester. Her research focuses on literary geographies and environmental histories in nineteenth-century Britain. She is on Twitter at @JoTayl0r0

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