About | Project Members | Research Assistants | Contact | Posting FAQ | Credits

Announcement: New Approaches to Reading Print Texts

Sophie Transliteracies Research Report

Sophie is an open-source multimedia authoring software.

“Sophie’s goal is to open up the world of multimedia authoring to a wide range of people and institutions and in so doing, redefine the notion of a book or academic paper to include both rich media and mechanisms for reader feedback and conversation” (http://sophieproject.cntv.usc.edu/)

Starter Links: Sophie Project Home Page | Sophie Blog

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Renee Hudson

Amazon Kindle Transliteracies Research Report

“Three years ago, we set out to design and build an entirely new class of device–a convenient, portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. The result is Amazon Kindle.

We designed Kindle to provide an exceptional reading experience. Thanks to electronic paper, a revolutionary new display technology, reading Kindle’s screen is as sharp and natural as reading ink on paper–and nothing like the strain and glare of a computer screen. Kindle is also easy on the fingertips. It never becomes hot and is designed for ambidextrous use so both “lefties” and “righties” can read comfortably at any angle for long periods of time.

We wanted Kindle to be completely mobile and simple to use for everyone, so we made it wireless. No PC and no syncing needed. Using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, we deliver your content using our own wireless delivery system, Amazon Whispernet. Unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. There are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills–we take care of the hassles so you can just read.

With Whispernet, you can be anywhere, think of a book, and get it in one minute. Similarly, your content automatically comes to you, wherever you are. Newspaper subscriptions are delivered wirelessly each morning. Most magazines arrive before they hit newsstands. Haven’t read the book for tomorrow night’s book club? Get it in a minute. Finished your book in the airport? Download the sequel while you board the plane. Whether you’re in the mood for something serious or hilarious, lighthearted or studious, Kindle delivers your spontaneous reading choices on demand.

And because we know you can’t judge a book by its cover, Kindle lets you download and read the beginning of books for free. This way, you can try it out–if you like it, simply buy and download with 1-Click, right from your Kindle, and continue reading. Want to try a newspaper as well? All newspaper subscriptions start with a risk-free two-week trial.

Kindle’s paperback size and expandable memory let you travel light with your library. With the freedom to download what you want, when you want, we hope you’ll never again find yourself stuck without a great read.” (Amazon.com)

Starter Links: The Kindle on Amazon.com | Wikipedia article on the Kindle

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Renee Hudson

KNFB Readers for the Visually Impaired

The KNFB Classic Reader was developed by Ray Kurzweil in association with the National Federation of the Blind and Envision Technology. About the size of a PDA, the reader uses a camera to take pictures of text and and using text-to-speech technology, reads the content aloud. The user can store information for future reference and transfer the information to a computer.

The company also offers a mobile reader for the Nokia N82 phone. In addition to the reader functions, users can access the phone and PDA functions of the device.

Starter Links: KNFB Announcement on Envision’s web site | A Washington Business Journal article detailing plans to release a cell-phone based reader | KNFB Reading Technology Inc. home page | Classic Reader page on KNFB web site | Mobile Reader on KNFB web site

Peter Cho, “Typotopo”Transliteracies Research Report

Typotopo is a website that collects the typographical and topographical work of Peter Cho.

This site represents the space where typography and topography overlap: explorations of type in virtual environments, experiments in mapping, and innovations in textual display. TYPOTOPO examines how the act of reading evolves when letters and words, viewed both as text and image, are placed in interactive and dynamic environments. TYPOTOPO explores typographic information spaces and the possibilities for playful, expressive letterforms (Typotopo).

Starter Links: Typotopo | Peter Cho’s home page

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Kate Marshall

Self Organizing Maps

“The SOM is an algorithm used to visualize and interpret large high-dimensional data sets. Typical applications are visualization of process states or financial results by representing the central dependencies within the data on the map.

The map consists of a regular grid of processing units, “neurons”. A model of some multidimensional observation, eventually a vector consisting of features, is associated with each unit. The map attempts to represent all the available observations with optimal accuracy using a restricted set of models. At the same time the models become ordered on the grid so that similar models are close to each other and dissimilar models far from each other.”

The map that can be seen through the following link is a great application of the SOM idea made by Andre Skupin:

In Terms of Geography

“Description of Content:
Visualization of the geographic knowledge domain based on more than 22,000 conference abstracts submitted to the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (1993-2002). Landscape features express the degree of topical focus, with elevated areas corresponding to more well-defined, topical regions and low-lying areas corresponding to a mingling of various topics. Dominant terms are used as labels for topical regions.
Description of Unique Features:
The most unique aspect of this visualization is its combination of intense computation with geographic metaphors and cartographic design considerations. From a computational perspective, the use of a self-organizing map consisting of a large number of neurons (10,000) is fairly unique. The final map presented here aims to explore how far we can go in the design of map-like information visualizations. Its use of a range of label sizes (from very large to very small) on a large-format map and the omission of a legend are aimed at challenging traditional notions of interactivity, by encouraging viewers to vary their distance from the map and instigating discussion.”

Meaningful Machines

New York-based corporation that aims to improve translation technology.

“Based on a core technology that understands natural language, Meaningful Machines is opening new avenues in text mining, search and retrieval, machine translation, natural language interfaces and artificial intelligence.” (From the home page)

“Running software that took four years and millions of dollars to develop, Carbonell’s marchine—or rather, the server farm it’s connected to a few miles away—is attempting a task that has bedeviled computer scientists for half a century. The message isn’t encrypted or scrambled or hidden among thousands of documents. It’s simply written in Spanish.” (From Wired Magazine.)

Starter Links: Meaningful Machines | Evan Ratliff’s “Me Translate Pretty One Day,” in the Dec. 2006 issue of Wired Magazine


Britished-based company that specializes in using aritifical intelligence to “read” scripts and forecast their market success

“Investing in and developing the wrong film properties is the biggest risk that faces studio heads. Parent companies and investor groups place studios under ever-increasing pressure to deliver Returns on Investment across an annual portfolio of films. Epagogix’s approach helps management of this most critical financial risk through accurate predictive analysis of the Box Office value of film scripts. Epagogix works confidentially with senior management of major film studios to assist in identifying and developing scripts, and in transforming scripts with low Box Office revenue potential into properties that can be profitably produced and distributed.” (From the Epagogix home page.)

Starter Links: Epagogix | New Yorker Article by Malcolm Gladwell

Noah Wardrip-Fruin, News Reader

Project that blends news articles from popular and alternative sources.

“News Reader is software for reading and playing the network news environment. News Reader initially offers the current “top stories” from Yahoo! News – which are always drawn from mainstream sources. Playing these stories brings forth texts generated from alternative press stories, portions of which are (through interaction) introduced into the starting texts, gradually altering them. News Reader is an artwork designed for daily use, providing an at times humorous, at times disturbing experience of our news and the chains of language that run through it.”

Starter Links: Project description

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Brooke Belisle

US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud

Program by Chirag Mehta that tracks the frequency of word usage in presidential speeches dating back to 1776.

“The above tag cloud shows the popularity, frequency, and trends in the usages of words within speeches, official documents, declarations, and letters written by the Presidents of the US between 1776 – 2006 AD. The dataset consists of over 360 documents downloaded from Encyclopedia Britannica and ThisNation.com. Once the documents have been dated and converted to plain-text, my tag-cloud-generation script goes through every text chronologically and makes a list of all the unique words that have been used and counts how many times each word is used.”(From the project web site.)

Starter Links: Home Page

Visual Thesaurus

Online dictionary and thesaurus that visually displays words within a network of related terms.

“The Visual Thesaurus is a dictionary and thesaurus with an intuitive interface that encourages exploration and learning. Available in both a Desktop Edition and an Online Edition, the Visual Thesaurus is a marvelous way to improve your vocabulary and your understanding of the English language.

The Visual Thesaurus’s intuitive interface helps you find words through their semantic relationship with other words and meanings. This focus results in a more precise understanding of the English language. ” (From the web site.)

Starter Links: Visual Thesaurus

BookcrossingTransliteracies Research Report

Contemporary book exchange enabled by online tracking.

“BookCrossers register a book by going to the website atBookCrossing.com, entering the ISBN number of the book, and getting a unique BCID (BookCrossing ID number) that is then written inside the cover (or on a bookmark) along with the website address. Convenient and eye-catching BookCrossing bookmarks can be printed from the website, making the registration process quick and easy.

“It’s really quite simple,” Hornbaker continues. “And even if you don’t want to give your books away, you can register them at BookCrossing.com to have your very own free, virtual bookshelf, complete with your personal reviews, to show the world the books you’ve read.”

Adventurous BookCrossers release their books “into the wild” on park benches, in coffee shops, in phone booths… wherever the interplay of distance and chance can make things interesting. They’re fascinated with the fate, karma, or whatever you want to call the chain of events that can occur between two or more lives and one piece of literature.

More conservative BookCrossers give their books to friends, relatives, or charities, and enjoy reading the resulting journal entries from person to person.” (From the web site.)

Starter Links: research report by Alison Walker | BookCrossing | Wikipedia’s Entry on BookCrossing | CNN srticle on BookCrossing

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Alison Walker

Britain in Print

Online archive of information related to early print.

“A much overlooked part of Britain’s national heritage is the wealth of printed material produced in the first three hundred years after the invention of the printing press. As well as charting key moments in the development of English literature, this material offers contemporary accounts of major historical events, such as the English Civil War, the Union of the Crowns, the discovery of the Americas and advances in science and medicine.

Launched in January 2003, the Britain in Print project will, for the first time, provide free access for all – from the home, school, library, or workplace – to information about the rich collections of early British books that are held in twenty-one of the nation’s most important libraries.” (From the web site.)

Starter Links: Britain in Print | Britain in Print has the Backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund | The Journal of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland talks about Britain in Print | Consortium of Research Libraries (CURL)

Audio Books

Popular type of “reading” alternative made from recordings of spoken words.

“An audio book is a recording of the contents of a book read aloud. It is usually distributed on compact discs (CDs), cassette tapes, or digital formats (e.g., MP3 and Windows Media Audio). The term “audio book” has been synonymous with “books on tape” for roughly 20 years. Cassette tape sales still comprise roughly 40% of the audio book market, with CDs the other dominant format type.” (From Wikipedia)

Starter Links: Wiki article

English Handwriting 1500-1700 Course

Online resource and course related to paleography.

“The English Handwriting 1500-1700 course has been designed for flexibility in an attempt to serve the needs of beginners and more experienced researchers alike. There are a number of ways in which you might approach the materials presented here, depending on whether you require information from the ground up or merely a convenient reference/practice resource.

The ‘historical introduction’ with Billingsley’s Pens Excellencie are resources that might be consulted at any time, but will, in different ways, provide an introductory overview to the subject of early modern English handwriting.” (From the web site.)

Starter Links: English Handwriting Site | Humbul Humanities Hub


Online educational tool to help teach Latin paleography.

“Ductus, from the Latin ducere (to lead), is a digital program designed for the teaching of Latin paleography either locally or via the internet. The program is based on 60 extremely high resolution facsimiles of manuscripts from the period 150-1500 A.D. It includes videos depicting a (modern) scribe at work, a 14-session course, and extensive glossaries and support documentation. It is already used byteachers and independent scholars around the world. In 2000 it received The Australian Award for Excellence in Tertiary Educational Multimedia. Ductus is available either for use by individuals or by institutions with a site licensing arrangement.

Ductus features:

  • Individual analyses of over 60 sample manuscript
    facsimiles, including folios from The Book of Kells.
  • Extensive interactive glossaries of terms and bibliographies.

  • Online library of seminal articles.

  • Extremely high-resolution manuscript images.

  • Videos demonstrating the craft of the medieval scribe.

  • A structured 14-session course in paleography and

  • Cross-browser – runs in Netscape and Internet Explorer.

  • Cross-platform – runs on Windows, Mac and Unix.
  • Ductus includes an introduction to the history of western European handwriting and detailed interactive analyses of 60 sample scripts chosen from manuscripts in European, North American and Australian collections.” (From the web site.)

    Starter Links: Ductus |
    Detailed information about the CD-ROM

    Medieval Palaeography Web Site

    Online learning tool for the study of palaeography.

    “In its origin, the ‘tutorial’ was conceived for seminars in the Centre for English Local History on medieval and early-modern palaeography, each comprising ten hours of contact time. To a large extent, the structure has been determined by that original objective. We have, however, tried subsequently to expand the material and the structure to make it more relevant for other users. It is intended as an introduction to practical palaeography – how to read hands. Although there is a smattering of formal palaeography, diplomatics and codicology, that material is included only in so far as it assists in practical reading.” (From the web site.)

    Starter Links: Palaeography Home Page| Paleography Links for Teachers | Websites For Medievalists |

    Medieval Writing WebsiteTransliteracies Research Report

    Online tool that provides its users with a broad overview of types, styles, and information on the culture of medieval writing from 400-1500 A.D.

    “Medieval Writing” showcases images from many types of documents including manuscripts, legal, administrative and papal documents; the website provides an in-depth analysis of each type of document and its uses during the medieval period. Secondly, “Medieval Writing” offers paleography lessons so its users can become proficient in the various book hands and document hands used from the 6th to the 16th Centuries. (From Alison Walker’s research report.)

    Starter Links: Medieval Writing Website

    Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Alison Walker

    Electronic Beowulf ProjectTransliteracies Research Report

    Searchable multimedia version of Beowulf.

    ”’The Electronic Beowulf Project’ is an image-based CD-ROM edition of Beowulf, the great Old English poem, which survives in only one manuscript: British Library Cotton Vitellius A. xv. The CD is a full-color digital facsimile of Beowulf, its associated texts, and glossaries. Future editions will include illuminations from contemporary manuscripts and external links to medieval and Anglo-Saxon resource sites.” (From Donna Beth Ellard’s Research Report.)

    Starter Links: The Electronic Beowulf Project

    Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Donna Beth Ellard

    The Exeter AnthologyTransliteracies Research Report

    Searchable, digital facsimile of the Exeter Book.

    “Digital images of the Exeter Book were produced in 1996, and from these images, a “virtual manuscript” has been produced. “The Exeter Anthology of Old English Poetry” is edited and compiled by Bernard J. Muir and Nick Kennedy. This program is a CD set that is scheduled for production in March 2006. The CD will contain interactive facsimiles, a page viewer, codicological report, historical and cultural materials, and audio readings of the poems. (From Donna Beth Ellard’s Research Report.)

    Starter Links: EVellum’s description of the project

    Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Donna Beth Ellard


    Online tool that allows user easy access to a dictionary of medieval Latin abbreviations.

    “Abbreviationesâ„¢, the first electronic dictionary of medieval Latin abbreviations, is a powerful database designed foruse in both learning and teaching of medieval Latin paleography. Abbreviationesâ„¢ is also a highly useful reference and research tool. It consists of a database (Main Dictionary) and a database application(Abbreviationesâ„¢) — a mature, robust, and reliable program, suitable for everyone from the novice to the expert. An electronic dictionaryis immeasurably more effective than a printed dictionary in terms of speed and efficiency. Furthermore, our database currently comprises over 70,000 entries, nearly five times as many as you would find in the printed dictionaries by Walther, Chassant, De la Braña, Cappelli,and Pelzer combined. Thanks to annual updates and enhancements, theMain Dictionary will continue to grow steadily. Abbreviationesâ„¢ is a standard reference work and reflects the state of contemporaryscholarship.” (from the Abbreviations web site.)

    Starter Links: Abbreviationes | Technical Information | Related Newsletter Article that mentions how “computers might actually help to make academics more productive” through this tool”

    Stanford University’s Medieval and Modern Thought Text Digitization Project

    Extensive project that aims to provide researchers with primary and secondary material in the broad category of medieval and modern thought. This project uses a book-scanning robot to help digitize its material.

    “To strengthen Stanford University Library holdings in the field of Western Medieval thought and its influence on modern times. The goal is to digitize on an ongoing basis printed reference works, source collections, and primary and secondary books in the broad area of medieval and modern thought.” (From the project’s web site.)

    Starter Links: Medieval and Modern Thought Text Digitization Project | “Robots Digitizing Libraries,” San Francisco Chronicle article about robots used to scan books | “SULAIR Has Robot for Digitizing Books,” SULAIR e-newsletter about scanning robots

    Decamaron Web

    Online resource out of Brown University for reading Boccaccio’s Decamaron. Includes links, maps, and other digital supplements.

    “The site can serve as a primer for newcomers to the Decameron, with useful sections on Boccaccio’s period and literary influences, and profiles of major characters and themes. A more advanced scholar can take advantage of complete, searchable texts in Italian and English, period music recordings, an extensive critical bibliography, and analytical tools such as a motif index and a concordance. The “pedagogy” section provides resources that teachers and students can use in their courses – reading guides, sample papers, course modules, and a variety of articles on the meaningful use of technology in the classroom.” (from next/text.)

    Starter Links: Decamaron Web | Project description from next/text

    Kybernekyia: Ezra Pound’s Canto LXXXI as “Hypervortext”

    Teaching tool created by Ned Bates and Gail McDonald that presents the canto as a hypertext.

    “Why hypertext Pound? This question can be read two ways, Why hypertext Pound?, or of what benefit is computer technology to the understanding of the Cantos? or, Why hypertext Pound?, of what value is the work of Ezra Pound to the postmodern technologies and the postmodern mind?

    The Cantos are littered with obscure and didactic references which require the curious reader to consult a variety of texts which span time, space, and culture. In Canto IV Greek, Latin, Provencal, Japanese, Chinese and American poetry and lore are cited. So to be able to leap from the poem to the cited reference and back again certainly saves the reader several hours at the library and a lot of juggling and flipping of books. And yet there is more to this application than just the employment of a postmodern convenience to a modernist text. ” (from the Kybernekyia web site.)

    Starter Links: Kybernekyia

    Bob Brown, Readies machineTransliteracies Research Report

    Avant-garde project described and planned in the early 1930s to create a reading machine that would use cinematic technology to make words move across a reading surface.

    Note: The article describing the “Readies” was published in transition (1930) and in the stand-alone publication The Readies (Bad Ems: Roving Eye Press, 1930). It also inspired a collection of short works created for the machine, Readies for Bob Brown’s Machine (1931), which included poems by Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and Filippo Marinetti.

    “The written word hasn’t kept up with the age. The movies have outmanoeuvered it. We have the talkies, but as yet no Readies. I’m for new methods of reading and writing and I believe the up-to-date reader deserves an eye-ful when he buys something to read. I think the optical end of the written word has been hidden over a bushel too long. I’m out for a bloody revolution of the word” (1). (from Bob Brown’s The Readies (Bad Ems: Roving Eye Press, 1930, UCLA Special Collections.)

    “Writing must become more optical, more eye-teasing, more eye-tasty, to give the word its due and tune-in on the age. Books are antiquated word containers…. modern word=conveyors are needed now, reading will have to be done by machine; microscopic type on a moveable tape running beneath a slot equipped with a magnifying glass and brought up to life size before the reader’s birdlike eye, saving white space, making words more moving, out=distancing the flatulent winded ones and bringing the moment brightly to us” (13). (from Bob Brown’s The Readies (Bad Ems: Roving Eye Press, 1930, UCLA Special Collections.)

    Starter Links or References: The Readies (Bad Ems: Roving Eye Press, 1930) | Readies for Bob Brown’s Machine (1931)

    Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Jessica Pressman

    W. Bradford Paley, TextArcTransliteracies Research Report

    Text-visualization and -analysis tool that processes texts (e.g., a novel) to give an overview of networks of repeated words and where repetitions occur; also retains the original text in readable form:

    “A TextArc is a visual represention of a text–the entire text (twice!) on a single page. A funny combination of an index, concordance, and summary; it uses the viewer’s eye to help uncover meaning. Here are more detailed overviews of the interactive work and the prints.” (from the TextArc web site.)

    Starter Links: TextArc | W. Bradford Paley’s Home Page

    Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Katrina Kimport


    Interactive educational game offers different levels engagement in order to focus on the processes of textual analysis and exegesis.

    “Ivanhoe is suited to any discipline in the humanities concerned with textual and visual hermeneutics. The game promotes self-conscious awareness about interpretation and seeks to encourage collaborative activity in fields such as literature, religious studies, history, and other humanities disciplines. Ivanhoe facilitates the imaginative use of electronic archives and online resources in combination with traditional text-based and visual research materials. The game’s rules and conditions are adjustable to different player levels and interests, from secondary school classes to advanced projects undertaken by established scholars. ” (from the SpecLab web site)

    “IVANHOE has been in development at the University of Virginia – first as a theoretical approach to humanities interpretation and later as a multi-user digital environment – since early 2000. It was initially conceived by Jerome McGann and Johanna Drucker as an exercise in revealing, through deformance, the multivalent narratives embedded in literary works like Walter Scott’s famous romance novel Ivanhoe.” (from the Applied Research in Patacriticism (ARP) web site.)

    Starter Links: Ivanhoe | SpecLab | ARP

    Nicholas Dames, “Wave-Theories and Affective Physiologies: The Cognitive Strain in Victorian Novel Theories” (2004)

    Article that studies a “wave-theory of novelistic affect,” according to which novel-reading is an experience characterized by “continual oscillation between ‘relaxing’ subplots … and the more rigidly hermeneutic drives of suspense and revelation that create a particularly rapt, if necessarily short-lived, form of attentiveness”:

    “The picture given us by this body of theory is of reading as an automatic performance; it is less a conscious construal of meaning, as in contemporary reader-response theory, than a submission to the rhythms of the text. Thus E. S. Dallas’s description of reading as similar to musical performance: “Many lines of action which when first attempted require to be carried on by distinct efforts of volition become through practice mechanical, involuntary movements of which we are wholly unaware. In the act of reading we find the mind similarly at work for us, with a mechanical ease that is independent of our care….” Reading is, in short, reflexive: it is an act with ties closer to the autonomic actions of the body and spinal column than to higher cortical activities, since to read well is no longer to pay attention to the act of reading. It is the task of the physiologized critic, therefore, to bring into consciousness what (during the act of reading itself) is less than conscious–to elucidate the rhythms of automatic cognition that different literary forms configure differently.” (from article)

    Starter Links & References: Print article, Victorian Studies 46.2 (2004): 206-216 | Online version in Project Muse (requires institutional subscription)

    Text-Encoding Initiative Standard (TEI)

    Basic concept of TEI (and of text-encoding in general) as a markup approach to digitizing literary and other texts:

    “The TEI was founded in 1987 to develop guidelines for encding machine-readable texts of interest in the humanities and social sciences. Its work was supported by the Association for Computing and the Humanities, the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing, and the Association for Computational Linguistics, and received generous grant funding from the Mellon Foundation, the EEC, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other institutions. The “P3” Guidelines were delivered in 1994, and have become the de facto standard for encoding of literary and linguistics texts, corpora, and the like.” (from the TEI FAQ)

    Starter Links: TEI home | See also Michael Sperberg-McQueen’s “A Gentle Introduction to SGML” for an overview of the text-encoding or text markup concept

    On-Demand, Digital Academic Publishing

    Story from Chronicle of Higher Education, 9 Dec. 2005, on digital, on-demand academic publishing:

    “Harvard University Press was one of the first academic publishers to use digital printing. After the press found success in reprinting sold-out books that way, officials started doing first print runs digitally about two years ago. ‘It actually changed our whole reprint philosophy,” says John F. Walsh, assistant director of Harvard University Press. “It allows us to keep books in print that normally we wouldn’t be able to keep in print.’ ” (from article)

    Starter Links: Dan Carnevale, “Books When You Want Them,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 52.16 (9 Dec. 2005): A27; available online (requires subscription)

    Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (Verso, 2005)

    Book demonstrating Moretti’s quantitative, “distant reading” (rather than close reading) approach to novels:

    “Professor Franco Moretti argues heretically that literature scholars should stop reading books and start counting, graphing, and mapping them instead. He insists that such a move could bring new luster to a tired field, one that in some respects is among “the most backwards disciplines in the academy.â€? Literary study, he argues, has been random and unsystematic. For any given period scholars focus on a select group of a mere few hundred texts: the canon. As a result, they have allowed a narrow distorting slice of history to pass for the total picture. Moretti offers bar charts, maps, and time lines instead, developing the idea of “distant reading,â€? set forth in his path-breaking essay “Conjectures on World Literature,â€? into a full-blown experiment in literary historiography, where the canon disappears into the larger literary system. Charting entire genres–the epistolary, the gothic, and the historical novel–as well as the literary output of countries such as Japan, Italy, Spain, and Nigeria, he shows how literary history looks significantly different from what is commonly supposed and how the concept of aesthetic form can be radically redefined.” (from publisher’s blurb)

    Starter Links & References: Verso, 2005 (ISBN: 1844670260) | Publisher’s blurb for the book | Inside Higher Ed review