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Humanist Archives: April 6, 2019, 7:19 a.m. Humanist 32.599 - pro & con

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 599.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
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        Date: 2019-04-06 03:38:27+00:00
        From: Jeremy Browne 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.596: pro & con...

The article by Nan Z. Da linked from the Chronicle editorial is worth reading...


...although I do not think all of the criticism is fair. As one who comes from
the social sciences (I'm still on the editorial board for a US journal in
education), I can tell you that scholars in that field are just as ignorant of
the constraints of high-end inferential statistics. We can and should do better,
but we're no worse than other fields that borrow statistical methods.

However, I need someone to help me understand this argument at the end:

"With regard to the overabundance argument, it is important to remember that
many of the key examples come from corpora or texts that have already been read.
CLS is really not dealing with nearly as much data or complexity (of the order
that justifies the use of the tools they use) as authors like to think. Basic
math also helps here: one million words roughly equals ten novels; one and a
half billion represents about fifteen thousand novels, which at one novel a
month will only take one thousand people one year to read. At the end of the
day, the overabundance claim is not a legitimate argument in and of itself."

Yes, 1,000 *could* theoretically read 15,000 books in a year, but are those
1,000 people getting together to talk about the 15 books they each read? Are
they formulating arguments across those 15,000? (And, since they each read 15
*distinct* books, they have no overlap from which to compare their thoughts.) If
not, then the argument--that computational methods are necessary to make some
sense of "overabundance" of literature--is still legitimate.

Or am I misreading that part?

Jeremy M. Browne, PhD

Associate Research Professor
Coordinator, Digital Humanities and Technology Program
College of Humanities
Brigham Young University

´╗┐On 4/5/19, 12:44 AM, "Humanist"  wrote:

                      Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 596.
                Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                    Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

            Date: 2019-04-05 00:55:54+00:00
            From: Henry Schaffer 
            Subject: DH - pro/con

    The Chronicle of Higher Education has some interesting perspectives on DH.
    Here are two opposing views - first the Editors Intro:
    In the last six months, a new front has opened in the often fiery
    disciplinary disputes over the role of quantitative methods in the
    humanities. The University of Chicago Press published two major new works
    of computational literary scholarship, Andrew Piper's *Enumerations: Data
    and Literary Study* and Ted Underwood's *Distant Horizons: Digital Evidence
    and Literary Change.* And this month Nan Z. Da harshly criticized what she
    called "computational literary studies" in the pages of *Critical Inquiry*.
    This week *The Chronicle Review* is featuring essays by Underwood and Da,
    arguing from either side of the conflict. We're also resurfacing some
    previous salvos in this war from our archive. -- The Editors

    Now for the two articles:
    Dear Humanists: Fear Not the Digital Revolution
    Advances in computing will benefit traditional scholarship -- not compete
    with it By Ted Underwood

    The Digital Humanities Debacle
    Computational methods repeatedly come up short.  By Nan Z. Da

    Some articles in the Chronicle are labelled "Premium" and behind a paywall.
    But often higher ed libraries have a subscription which enables access from
    either the library or the campus.

    I've barely started reading the two articles, so I may comment on the
    content later.

    --henry schaffer

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