Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Critical Digital HumanitiesThe Search for a Methodology$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

James E. Dobson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042270

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042270.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 04 December 2020

Can an Algorithm Be Disturbed?

Can an Algorithm Be Disturbed?

Machine Learning, Intrinsic Criticism, and the Digital Humanities

(p.32) Chapter 2 Can an Algorithm Be Disturbed?
Critical Digital Humanities

James E. Dobson

University of Illinois Press

This chapter positions the use of machine learning within the digital humanities as part of a wider movement that nostalgically seeks to return literary criticism to the structuralist era, to a moment characterized by belief in systems, structure, and the transparency of language. While digital methods enable one to examine radically larger archives than those assembled in the past, a transformation that Matthew Jockers characterizes as a shift from micro to macroanalysis, the fundamental assumptions about texts and meaning implicit in these tools and in the criticism resulting from the use of these tools belong to a much earlier period of literary analysis. The author argues that the use of imported tools and procedures within literary and cultural criticism on the part of some digital humanists in the present is an attempt to separate methodology from interpretation. In the process, these critics have deemphasized the degree to which methodology participates in interpretation. The chapter closes by way of a return to the deconstructive critique of structuralism in order to highlight the ways in which numerous interpretive decisions are suppressed in the selection, encoding, and preprocessing of digitized textual sources for text mining and machine learning analysis.

Keywords:   Structuralism, subjectivity, openness, literary hermeneutics, surface reading, topic modelling, models, themes, unsupervised, supervised, machine learning

Illinois Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.