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Debates in the Digital Humanities$
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Matthew K. Gold

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677948

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677948.001.0001

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Canons, Close Reading, and the Evolution of Method

Canons, Close Reading, and the Evolution of Method

(p.249) Chapter 14 Canons, Close Reading, and the Evolution of Method
Debates in the Digital Humanities

Matthew Wilkens

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter considers the question of why canons still exist, despite the consensus that they are bad. It also asks what this has to do with digital humanities and with debates internal to digital work. Canons are an enormous problem, one that follows from literary scholars’s need to perform always and only close reading as a means of cultural analysis. Scholars need to do less close reading and more of anything and everything else that might help them extract information from and about texts as indicators of larger cultural issues, including bibliometrics and book historical work, data mining and quantitative text analysis, economic study of the book trade and of other cultural industries, geospatial analysis, and so on. The digital humanities offer a potential solution to the problem of canons only if scholars are willing to reconsider their priorities for digital work in ways that emphasize quantitative methods and the large corpora on which they depend.

Keywords:   digital humanities, canons, digital work

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