File /Humanist.vol22.txt, message 527

From: Humanist Discussion Group <>
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2009 06:23:24 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: [Humanist] 22.542 cost and labour of doing good

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 542.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to:

        Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 07:59:23 -0600
        From: Martin Mueller <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 22.537 cost and labour of doing good
        In-Reply-To: <>

I wonder whether there is a way of rescuing Lane Cooper's 1919  
statement about 'making the poet write literary literary essays about  
himself.' What if we replace it with 'letting the text tell different  
stories about itself'? That does of course beg the story of the 'text  
itself' and we all know that there is no such thing. Or we can be even  
more modest and think of concordances and their digital successors as  
an invaluable tool in tracing connections from the microstructure of  
textual detail to a larger weave of theoretical reflection.

There may not always be a productive path from the verbal  
microstructure to the larger weave of reflection. But there often is.  
Literary Studies as a discipline has been slow to learn from corpus  
linguistics, bioinformatics, and other forms of digitally assisted  
'text' analysis. One can point to the absence of good enough tools or  
data and even more to different styles of rhetoric that get in each  
other's way. 'Lost in translation' is the title of the movie that  
always comes to my mind when I ponder the relations of Literary  
Studies to various forms of informatics.

On Feb 17, 2009, at 12:39 AM, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

>                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 537.
>        Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>               Submit to:
>       Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 09:26:44 -0600
>       From: Stephen Ramsay <>
>       >       In-Reply-To: <>
> On Feb 16, 2009, at 6:06 AM, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
>> In 1919 Cooper wrote that by compiling a concordance the
>> lover of Wordsworth "could render a more vital service to English
>> literature by the unambitious toil of indexing the works of that poet
>> than by writing enthusiastic essays upon their merits. In reality, to
>> form a concordance of Wordsworth is almost the same thing as making
>> the
>> poet write literary essays about himself -- an object well worth
>> the zeal of any scholar or learned organization" (pp. 5-6).
> I'll admit that I find such statements generally mystifying (a
> testament to my own belated state as a theoritician of everything),
> but I suspect the key lies in the comparison: "making the poet write
> literary essays about himself."  It is the assumption of authorial
> intention as the normative principle of criticism, and the attendant
> belief that language is a kind of cipher for intentionality.  There's
> an echo of this sentiment in the writings of our own Founding Father,
> Roberta Busa:
> "I realized first that a philological and lexicographical inquiry into
> the verbal system of an author has to precede and prepare for a
> doctrinal interpretation of his works.  Each writer expresses his
> conceptual system in and through his verbal system, with the
> consequence that the reader who masters this verbal system, using his
> own conceptual system, has to get an insight into the writer's
> conceptual system.  The reader should not simply attach to the words
> he reads the significance they have in his mind, but should try to
> find out what significance they had in the author's mind." ("The
> Annals of Humanities Computing: The *Index Thomisticus.*," CHUM 14
> (1980): 83)
> Steve
> --
> Stephen Ramsay
> Assistant Professor
> Department of English
> Center for Digital Research in the Humanities
> University of Nebraska at Lincoln
> PGP Public Key ID: 0xA38D7B11

List posts to:
List info and archives at at:
Listmember interface at:
Subscribe at:


Humanist Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005