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Critical Digital HumanitiesThe Search for a Methodology$
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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

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Digital Historicism and the Historicity of Digital Texts

Digital Historicism and the Historicity of Digital Texts

Chapter:
(p.66) Chapter 3 Digital Historicism and the Historicity of Digital Texts
Source:
Critical Digital Humanities
Author(s):

James E. Dobson

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252042270.003.0003

This chapter takes up several important theoretical problems and complexities introduced by text mining and datafication to historiography and historical research in order to think about the problems and promises of a digital historicism. The chapter argues for an approach that takes the historicity of the digitized archive seriously without reducing the use of computational methods to either those framed strictly by the terms and language of the present or to a form of rigid historicism that would require enclosing the archive in synchronically constructed interpretive framework. Many of the approaches used within text mining deploy secondary archives—dictionaries, thesauruses, and other forms of human-constructed schemata—that have tended to capture categories used in the present. The chapter concludes by examining the methods and practice of extracting and analyzing emotional or affective content in texts through what is called sentiment mining. Functioning as a case study, sentiment mining demonstrates the need for quantitative and computational humanists to give more attention to the historical dimensions of both text and affect, to both primary and secondary digital sources.

Keywords:   Historicism, Posthistoricism, Postcritique, digital history, digital archives, sentiment analysis, affect, feeling, lexical databases

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