4.0294 Criticism and Computing (1/30)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 17 Jul 90 18:35:12 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0294. Tuesday, 17 Jul 1990.

Date: Tue, 17 Jul 90 00:01:07 -0400
From: jdg@eleazar.dartmouth.edu (Joel D. Goldfield)
Subject: "... knowledge, cont."


Sarah Higley's comments about Borges are also intriguing, not in the
least because the concepts which I think of as conscious or unconscious
selective omission influence us as literary critics as well. Several of
the contributors to _Literary Computing and Literary Computing_ (ed.
Rosanne Potter, U. Penn , 1989) note or imply that they would have never
found certain phenomena in the text(s) they studied had they not had
access to a complete analysis of thematic groups or other such
strategies that could be implemented by a nearly infallible, counting
and "ordering" computer (thinking of the French "ordinateur").

At conferences I've attended -- MLA, Institute for Academic Technology,
ALLC-ACH, among others -- a few attendees expressed their surprise
that certain results could be "massaged from the data" (my quotation
of Frank Dominguez' remarks at the IAT conference, March '90, UNC-CH,
in support of a presentation I had just made). Yet the literary results
have not been refuted. If one omitted mentioning the computing side,
perhaps no-one would ever notice how one arrived at the tip of the
iceberg (or perhaps the bottom?).

Besides the wealth of personalities and viewpoints throughout the
ages that demands reinterpretation of texts, it seems that quantitative
wealth of information, of words, collocations, paragraphs, pages, books,
and the poetic and rhetorical devices, themes, etc. we find within
them comprise another factor, not to forget forgetfulness.

Joel D. Goldfield
Language Outreach, Dartmouth College