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Page history last edited by Alan Liu 7 months, 1 week ago


 English 197

Close Reading and Distant Reading
in Literary Studies



UC Santa Barbara Undergraduate Course

Instructor: Alan Liu

Winter 2014 Tue, Thur 11:00 - 12:15 PM, South Hall 2635


Office Hours: Thur 3:30-4:30, South Hall 2521


In recent years, digital methods of text analysis, data mining, mapping, visualization, social network analysis, and media studies have set up a collision between two broad approaches to the study of literature.  One is "close reading" as it emerged in the 20th century from such methods as the American New Criticism and Russian Formalism.  The other is "distant reading" as it is now emerging in the 21st century through "digital humanities" methods.  This course immerses students in the ideas and practices of the original New Critics, the theory and practices of the digital humanities, and the broader debate in literary studies today about the nature of interpretive reading (including "surface reading" and "slow reading").  Our aim is bring to view and discuss the underlying literary, aesthetic, philosophical, and social issues at stake in the debate between close reading and distant reading.


Students are asked to do some small-scale, hands-on digital practicums; but no advanced digital-technology experience is required.  This course counts for the English Department's Literature and Culture specialization.

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